Spousal support, also known as alimony, can become a heated issue during
a divorce. While a higher earning spouse may not like paying it, a lower
earning spouse may insist on receiving it. And unless a compromise can
be reached, the issue of how much alimony should be paid and for how long
can quickly turn into a bitter court battle. In today’s blog, we’re
going to discuss what spousal support in California is, and how a court
determines the numbers behind it.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is generally a court-mandated requirement for one spouse
to pay another a set amount each month. The money is meant to assist the
lower earner in maintaining the lifestyle the married couple shared, for
at least some period of time. Spousal support may only be awarded after
a spouse files a civil claim in court. Grounds for a spousal support claim
- Legal separation
- Domestic violence
When a divorce is pending and during the divorce proceedings, a California
judge may award
temporary spousal support. The purpose of the temporary support is to maintain the standard of living
conditions of both parties until permanent support is determined. This
support does not expire and there is no set limit to its expiration.
After the divorce, the court sets
permanent spousal support. Permanent support can consist of either periodic payments or a single
lump-sum payment. The purpose of permanent support is to provide the lower-earning
spouse with sufficient income for their basic needs and to ensure that
their lifestyle remains consistent after the divorce.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
For temporary spousal support, judges generally use a formula to calculate
the amount. Courts in different counties may use slightly different factors
in calculating temporary support. Your court’s local rules should
explain how temporary support is calculated in your county.
When it comes to permanent spousal support, a judge does not use a formula
to figure out the amount. Instead, the judge must consider the factors
in California Family Code section 4320, including:
- The length of the marriage
- What each person needs based on the standard of living they had during
- What each person pays or can pay to keep the standard of living they had
during the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- Debts and property
- Whether a spouse helped the other get an education or career
- Domestic violence
- Tax implications
Once spousal support is determined, it becomes part of the final divorce
or legal separation judgment.
Contact Us Today
If you want to learn more about how spousal support is determined in California,
Riverside family lawyers at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. We can discuss the specifics
of your case and determine your legal options.
Call (951) 687-6003 for a
free case consultation.