The purpose of alimony/spousal support is to have the spouse with the greater income contribute to the support of his or her former spouse. There is no absolute right to alimony/spousal support, but the Court “may” order either party to pay alimony/spousal support to the other. The amount of the support award is determined by the court after full disclosure of the financial conditions of the parties. Among the factors considered by courts in making this determination are the length of the marriage; the age, health and station of the parties; the occupation, amount and sources of their incomes; and the estate and needs of the parties. The length of time alimony/spousal support is to be paid is left to the discretion of the court, and in some cases courts may award lifetime support.
During the mediation process the parties are free to discuss and come up with an alimony/spousal support amount and length of duration that is best suited to their own individual circumstances. It may be that another option, such as an unequal division of assets, or an adjustment to the length of time the support payments are to continue, results in a fairer support agreement. While the Courts are limited in how the award of spousal support/alimony is structured, this is not a restriction in mediation, as the Courts allow adults to fashion their own support agreements, provided that neither is left destitute and in need of public assistance. During mediation the mediator can assist the parties to come up with an agreement of alimony/spousal support that each can live with.
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