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Each state has divorce laws in place which allow the court to order temporary spousal support in certain circumstances. In addition to money for moving expenses and other necessities, a judge often orders temporary support to pay for a party’s attorney’s fees.

Although the formula theoretically only applies to spousal support payments while the divorce is pending, in practice, many family court judges carry over the amount to the final decree, or at least use the temporary support as a blueprint. As such, it is critically important to have aggressive representation as early as possible, because the decisions that a judge makes in the first two or three weeks in a divorce case are sometimes difficult to reverse.

The Formula

In the most recent wave of alimony reform, many states embraced formulas for spousal support, to determine the amount in much the same way as child support. To determine the presumptive amount, a judge considers a portion of the monied and non-monied spouse’s income and compares that figure against the parties’ overall income.

For example, assume that Wife earns $50,000 per year, and Husband earns $25,000. To reach the presumptive amount of $5,000, the judge takes 30 percent of Wife’s income ($15,000) and subtracts 20 percent of Husband’s income ($5,000). The award cannot exceed 40 percent of the couple’s income. In addition to the amount presumption, there is also a presumption that spousal support is inappropriate if the monied spouse’s income is below a certain percent of the poverty line.

Judges nearly always award monthly payments, because there is no way to tell how long the divorce process will last. The judge also normally issues an order that neither party can remove the other from a health insurance plan. Take note that, once the divorce is final, most health insurance companies will not cover an ex-spouse, so these persons must seek alternate arrangements.


To depart from the guideline amount, the court must find that the presumptive level is unjust or inappropriate. Then, the judge applies a number of factors to determine the amount, including:

  •       Ages and health of the parties
  •       Standard of living during the marriage
  •       Financial circumstances of each party
  •       Provisions for minor children
  •       Any noneconomic contributions during the marriage
  •       Waste of marital assets
  •       Any other factor the court deems relevant

A temporary support award is difficult, although not impossible, to modify.

Contact a Divorce Attorney

If you have decided to end your marriage and think you may be entitled to spousal support, contact an experienced divorce attorney in Staten Island, NY, such as from Kleyman Law Firm. Call a law office today to schedule a consultation.