Spousal Support in Transition from Marriage to Divorce


Lyndsey Fibus


Faculty editor: Paul Horton
Publication: Contemporary Legal Issues
Volume: 22
Start Page: 123
Month: December
Year: 2015
Type: Article


Those who intermarry make “obligations of mutual respect, fidelity, and support” an indefinite commitment. The obligation of support is not just a community obligation; if community resources are lacking, spouses living together must support each other out of their separate resources. Spouses become liable for each other’s debts incurred for “necessaries of life,” not only while they are living together but also during periods in which they are living separate and apart without an agreement to do so.
By their terms, the legal obligations of marriage do not survive divorce. Yet most marriages, even today, are characterized by division of labor between the spouses; and the division can create moral entitlements that require recognition after legal termination of the marriage. Often the husband works to support the family while the wife cares for the home and children. Divorce creates serious problems for the stay-at-home spouse when such a division of labor has characterized the marriage over many years.