In 2014, a new law took effect that deals with spousal maintenance. In many states, spousal maintenance is also called alimony. Alimony is where one spouse is paying to the other spouse a continual monthly amount for a certain period of time. The new law that took effect has advisory guidelines for what spousal maintenance will be, or should be, in any given circumstance that takes into consideration the duration of the marriage, the education of the parties, the employment capabilities of the parties, the lifestyle or standard of living during the course of the marriage, and several other factors that the court has to look at in deciding whether maintenance is appropriate. The advisory guidelines have a formula that would state what the amount of the monthly maintenance would be, if it's awarded by the court, and what the duration of the maintenance would be.
As an example, in a 20-year marriage, where one party has been a stay-at-home mom and the other party has been the primary breadwinner, what the court can do is order spousal maintenance for 50% of the length of the marriage, or 10 years. The amount of the maintenance, pursuant to the formula would be 40% of the higher wage earner's monthly gross, less 50% of the lower wage earner's monthly gross income, which would either be actual or imputed income, and determined what that monthly maintenance amount would be.
Maintenance always terminates in the event of death of either party, or the remarriage of the party who is receiving spousal maintenance. It's always good to check with a lawyer and get proper advice whenever you're dealing with the issue of spousal maintenance.