How long will I have to pay spousal support?
This is a difficult question and one that is specific to each individual case. However, there are some general guidelines on the way in which courts award support for a specific duration. Once a support order is made, a motion to change support must be brought if there is a significant change in circumstances and you wish to change the amount of support that was ordered. Unless you had a very short marriage, courts are reluctant to place a specific time limit on spousal support, as they can rarely know how long it will take a spouse to become self-sufficient. Judges can make a review order which states that, after a certain amount of time, the spousal support can be reviewed (not necessarily changed). This relieves the spouses of having to show a material change in circumstances. Review orders are usually only granted where there is a clear date upon which the financial circumstances of the spouses will change. The SSAG guidelines have introduced the concept of time limits on spousal support for marriages less than 20 years long and the formulas do provide for these durational limits. However, since the guidelines are just a suggestion, courts are more likely to go the “softer” route and order a review rather than a strict limit. Time limits on review are more likely to be given, since a more realistic view of when the spouse will be self-sufficient is ascertainable.