Alimony or Spousal Support in California

What is Alimony or Spousal Support

When individuals get married, the law recognize them.  For this reason, when spouses separate or divorce the law may require one of the spouses to financially support the other either for a period of time or indefinitely. This legal obligation is called spousal support which is also commonly known as alimony in California. Thus, the two terms are used interchangeably. 

Temporary Spousal Support 

Upon filing for divorce or legal separation each spouse can ask the court to set temporary spousal support. The purpose of temporary spousal support is to maintain the spouse’s standard of living while the divorce or legal separation is taking place. Therefore, the purpose between temporary and permanent spousal support are not the same. 

Permanent Spousal Support

The word “permanent” used before spousal support can be misleading. Permanent spousal support does not have to be lifelong. It is more accurate to call it long-term spousal support. In marriages of long duration, the length of spousal support could be for life. Yet, spousal support terminates if the supported spouse remarries. Therefore, even permanent spousal support is often not forever. 

Calculating Spousal Support /Alimony 

When divorce or dissolution is finalized the court may order one spouse to pay the other long-term spousal support. The court must consider the the following to amount of spousal support that must be paid.

 

  • Length of marriage- the longer the parties have been married the longer the length or amount of spousal support can be. In many cases, spousal support could be for life.
  •  Age and Health of Spouses- Whether the spouse is able to work is often an important factor in determining spousal support.
  • Earning Capacity and Income- The ability of a spouse to work and earn income along with the actual income he/she earns is a factor the court can consider in determining whether or how much to award spousal support.
  • Balance of Hardships- Along with the standard of living, the court can consider other factors it deems relevant or important in determining whether to award spousal support.
  • Gavon Warning- Generally, spouse who is receiving spousal support is warned that if they at any time can work and be self-sufficient, they should do so. Thus, the spouse receiving support must work to eventually become self-sufficient.
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