The spousal support guidelines in place in most states are designed to protect both spouses in the event of a divorce. Over the course of a marriage, one spouse may become dependent on the other for financial support. This may be because one spouse stays home to take care of kids or elderly or ill family members, or it may simply be because one spouse has a much higher earning power than the other. Regardless of the reason why one spouse earns more than the other, spousal support is designed to ensure that after a divorce, each spouse is able to maintain a standard of living somewhat comparable to the standard he or she enjoyed during the marriage. This means the spousal support guidelines consider a number of factors in determining a support agreement. When a spouse is disabled, this will be one important factor that the court considers.
Spousal Support and Disability
The main guidelines for determining spousal support are:
- How much each party makes
- How long the two individuals involved have been married
- What contribution each party has made to the marriage
- The earning power and ability to bring in money that each spouse has
If a spouse is disabled and unable to work, his or her earning power is likely severely diminished. As such, the court will consider this factor and is likely to award the disabled spouse more support than a non-disabled individual would have in a similar situation. Since the disabled spouse cannot work to support him or herself and to replace the income that he lost as a result of no longer being married, the court wants to ensure that he continues to be taken care of. This responsibility will usually fall on the spouse who has been providing the financial support and, based on how much that person is making, he or she will be expected to continue providing monthly payments to the disabled individual for support.
This support is likely to be awarded on a permanent basis, which means it will generally continue until the disabled spouse either gets remarried, passes away, or has a change in income that causes the court to revisit the original spousal support agreement. Health insurance may also be a factor in such a divorce agreement, and it may be part of the divorce decree that the disabled spouse is able to continue obtaining medical benefits from the other spouse's insurance policy if such benefits were provided before the divorce.
The issue of spousal support becomes especially important in cases where one spouse is disabled, and regardless of whether you are the disabled spouse or the other spouse in the marriage, you need to get help from a qualified divorce attorney. Your lawyer can help make sure your rights are protected and that a fair support agreement is reached that makes sense for the situation.