Other than concerns about child custody and asset division, worries about support are often the most pressing for someone facing an imminent divorce. Those with minor children may have to pay child support, depending on the custody arrangements.

In some circumstances, one spouse will also have an order to pay spousal support, known as alimony, after the divorce. Many people take offense at the idea of financially supporting someone they are no longer married to. However, support is much less than it used to be. With more women working and more men staying home with children, there is also less of a gender divide in who receives spousal support.

Looking at your family circumstances can help you determine how likely you are to face an order of spousal support.

The longer you stayed married, the more likely you have to pay

You have been married for 30 years in Catonsville and your spouse stayed home to care for your children through most of the marriage. This substantially increases the likelihood that you will pay spousal support. The longer the marriage, the greater the claim of your former spouse to an expectation of a certain standard of living.

It is also possible that your spouse will have lost much of their earning potential during the course of a marriage, particularly if they cared for your children or home instead of continuing their education on career. If your spouse simply won’t be able to secure a job where they can make enough money to support themselves after divorce, the courts may order temporary spousal support.

The idea behind a temporary order is to provide financial stability for a spouse with low earning potential while they secure experience and education necessary for a better job.

Are the pension and retirement accounts only in your name?

In a scenario where one spouse holds all of the retirement accounts in their name, the courts may order spousal support as a means of splitting retirement assets or a pension between the two spouses. Instead of dividing the retirement account in half or attempting to negotiate a split with the company that manages your pension, the courts may order that you pay a portion of each disbursement from your pension or retirement account to your ex in the form of spousal support.

It is common for people to feel upset about the obligation to pay spousal support. Learning about its likelihood in your case can help you avoid an unpleasant shock later on.

Talking about your employment and family situation with an attorney can help you assess what will happen in your divorce regarding spousal support. Overall, the greater the discrepancy in income potential and the longer the marriage, the more likely that you will face an order to pay spousal support.