What is a Dependent Spouse?

Essential to an award of spousal support or alimony, the court must determine that the spouse requesting support is a dependent spouse, and the other party is the supporting spouse. A dependent spouse is a husband or wife who is actually and substantially dependent on the other spouse for maintenance or is substantially in need of support from the other spouse.

Court’s are given broad discretion in determination of dependency. It involves mixed questions of law and fact left to judicial discernment. In making a determination of dependency, a court considers the needs of the dependent spouse, and can consider the standard of living to which the family was accustomed for several years before separation. And, the spouse seeking an award of alimony or post separation support is not required to deplete individual assets in order to maintain that standard of living before an award of spousal support is made.

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