Is There an Official Spousal Support Calculator?

Spousal support is not always awarded in divorce. In fact, courts award it less often now than they used to – and when it is awarded, the duration is often shorter than it used to be.

Whereas you can turn to various online “estimators” to calculate the amount of child support you might pay or receive,  the issue of spousal support is not as cut-and-dried. Some states do have general “formulas” for spousal support, but if you live in one of those states, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can plan on that amount.

Who determines the amount of money awarded in spousal support?

If spousal support is to be awarded at all – and that’s iffy in some situations – who determines it? The amount may be determined by a judge in court. Or, it may be determined by you and your ex.

Factors a judge considers when awarding spousal support

A judge looks at the details of a divorce case to decide whether spousal support is warranted. These details may involve any or all of the following:

  • How long you were married
  • Age and health status of each spouse
  • Financial status of each spouse
  • Ability of each spouse to work
  • Whether one spouse gave up a career to manage children or home


Examples of state formulas for alimony

If alimony is to be awarded, the court may look at the amount of money earned by each spouse. A percentage of the lower earner’s income may be subtracted from a percentage of the higher earner’s income to determine an alimony amount.

  • In California, the numbers to plug in here are between 35% and 40% of each person’s income.
  • In Colorado, the numbers to plug in here are 40% of the higher earner’s income and 50% of the lower earner’s income.

In Texas, however, the court takes a different approach. The general rule is that no more than 20% of the higher earner’s income (or $5,000; whichever is lower) may be awarded to the lower earner. And in Utah, the court permits “fault” in divorce to impact how much alimony one ex-spouse must pay to another.

Spousal support may be negotiated through mediation

If you and your spouse are willing to participate in mediation, you can craft your own spousal support agreement with no court involvement. 

But the issue of support is an emotional one, so be sure to hire a mediator you both like and trust. A mediator does not take sides. Rather, their goal is to find a solution that works for both parties so the divorce need not proceed to court.

Hello Divorce has options for flat-rate divorce mediation. If you’re thinking of going this route, read these helpful resources first:

Watch: Spousal Support During Divorce


Senior Editor
Communication, Relationships, Divorce Insights
Melissa Schmitz is Senior Editor at Hello Divorce, and her greatest delight is to help make others’ lives easier – especially when they’re in the middle of a stressful life transition like divorce. After 15 years as a full-time school music teacher, she traded in her piano for a laptop and has been happily writing and editing content for the last decade. She earned her Bachelor of Psychology degree from Alma College and her teaching certificate from Michigan State University. She still plays and sings for fun at farmer’s markets, retirement homes, and the occasional bar with her local Michigan band.