Support Rights While Still Married

Spouses must support each other while married, but sometimes complex legal issues arise.

Does a wife have to support her husband?

Yes. Each spouse has the same obligation to support the other.

Must I use my non-marital property for support?

Yes. Property that you or your spouse earned during marriage is generally treated as marital property. Non-marital property is property that you or your spouse (1) owned before the marriage or (2) received individually as a gift or through inheritance.

If spouses have both marital and non-marital property, generally the marital property must be used first for support.

Is there any limit to the amount of support?

Yes. The support obligation covers only “necessaries of life”. But these may vary a lot, depending upon your standard of living. For example, if the family is used to spending large amounts of money, “necessaries” might include more things than if the couple is barely getting by.

If there are big disagreements about what you should spend money for, it is probably good to discuss these problems with a professional, such as a marriage counselor.

Living apart

If you and your spouse are living apart but have not filed for divorce, do you still have an obligation to support each other?

Probably, but a judge might define “necessaries” more narrowly than if you were living together.

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