While spousal support is certainly a common issue in many divorces, it is not automatic. Not everyone will have a spousal support order established in the proceedings of their divorce. After all, a spousal support order depends on several factors regarding the marriage and each spouse’s financial circumstances.

Even so, if spouses are ordered to pay spousal support or maintenance, they often wonder: how long will they have to support their ex-spouse?

Everything depends on the support agreement

This is a common concern for individuals who have to pay spousal support after divorce. A divorce can have a significant impact on one’s finances and budget, and many people worry about whether they have to pay spousal support for the rest of their life – or their ex-spouse’s life.

Spousal support is not often a lifelong arrangement. The amount paid and the duration of the order depend on specific factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living
  • The custody arrangement
  • Each spouse’s earning ability and financial capacity

An average agreement might require the paying spouse to pay spousal support one year for every three years of the marriage. However, there is no straightforward answer to the question of how long spouses will have to pay support. The answer depends on the details of the support order or agreement between the spouses – and these are different in every case as demonstrated by the factors listed above.

Individuals can determine an end date if they wish if they create the spousal support agreement themselves in a collaborative divorce. However, if spouses cannot agree on the terms of spousal support, the duration of payments could be determined in the court order by Kentucky family courts.

Certain events could terminate spousal support obligations

However, an individual with spousal support obligations might not have to pay until the date determined in the agreement. There are specific circumstances that terminate one’s obligation to pay spousal support, including:

  • If the spouse receiving spousal support remarries; or
  • If one spouse passes away.

Other significant events could also qualify spouses to request a modification or termination of their spousal support obligations, though that depends on each spouse’s situation and the court’s decision.

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