Spousal support is a financial award one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. Not every divorce will have an alimony award. The court usually has the final say on awards unless there is a prenuptial agreement concerning maintenance payments. 

According to Forbes, spousal support allows the court to create a fair settlement in a divorce where one spouse may have a much higher income than the other. It is typical in a situation where one spouse did not work during the marriage or has extenuating circumstances that severely limit his or her earning potential, such as a physical disability. 

Standard of living 

The court will usually look at the standard of living during the marriage and try to ensure both parties can maintain that after the divorce. While it may be impossible to ensure the exact standard of living, the court will use spousal support to help even things out if one party will have a substantially higher standard of living. 

Other guidelines 

In general, the court has few guidelines to use when deciding how much alimony to award and for how long to award it. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court will investigate your marriage and each of you individually to determine information about your finances and earning abilities. 

The court may consider things such as who has the children the majority of the time, your education levels, any health conditions or problems, where you live, how long your marriage lasted and any training you or your spouse may need to enter the job market.