Determining When a Spouse Needs Financial Assistance
When a couple decides to divorce, their lives undergo a significant change. In an effort to lessen the transitional pains a lower-earning spouse could experience when living independently, a court can order for alimony to be paid. These spousal support payments allow the partner with lower earning potential to continue enjoying a lifestyle as close to their marital standard of living as possible without creating a financial burden too intolerable for the supporting spouse. Still, these payments are not awarded in every divorce.
Courts will consider a number of factors when determining whether to award permanent alimony. California considers:
- The job skills of each spouse and the ability to get employed with those skills
- Impairment of earning capacity due to time taken to address domestic duties
- The contribution of the supported spouse to the paying spouse’s education and career development
- Ability of paying spouse to make alimony payments
- Age and health of both spouses
- Length of the marriage
- Individual property and debt
- Marital standard of living
Beyond deciding if any spousal support should be awarded, courts will also determine whether the alimony is permanent or temporary. Spousal maintenance will be paid for a length of time dependent largely on the length of marriage:
- If the marriage was very short, permanent support is unlikely
- Marriages that lasted for less than 10 years typically result in alimony that lasts no longer than half the length of the marriage
- Marriages that lasted for more than a decade are dependent on the individual relationship and how long it will likely take that individual to become self-sufficient
Alternatively, you and your spouse have the ability to reach an independent decision on alimony. So long as the court finds it fair and reasonable, it could be accepted and binding.