Something that you’ve always prided yourself on was being able to maintain your career while raising a family. You’ve worked hard, and you’ve been the parent that your children needed, too.

You never expected that your spouse would decide to divorce you, but now that they are, you have to start looking forward. You sat down to look over your budget and realized that you would not be able to live in the same area any longer without financial support. You’re several hundred dollars short of what you need to support yourself and your children each month, even though you work a full-time job.

Your spouse earns twice as much as you, so it’s not surprising that you are at a disadvantage financially on your own. Divorces increase how much you have to spend to support yourself, which can have a major financial impact. Fortunately, even if you are working, you can ask for spousal support to help you make up the difference.

Do you have to go to court to get spousal support?

No, you don’t have to go to court to get spousal support. In fact, if you and your spouse can agree to an amount of support that you think is fair, then you can have that maintenance agreement approved by the court. If you can’t agree, then the judge will make a decision for you.

Be aware that there are guidelines. For couples who have been married three years or longer and earn less than $360,000 combined, the state will use a formula to help determine support. For those married fewer than three years, the support amount is based on equitable distribution rules.

The guidelines also require a judge to look at your property, financial resources, financial need and other factors to determine how much you should receive in support.