What is Spousal Support?

When a couple divorces or separates, the court may require one spouse to pay spousal support, also called alimony, to the other spouse if one spouse or domestic partner is more financially stable than the other. 

How Is Spousal Support Determined During Divorce Proceedings in California?

When a divorce proceeding is underway in California, either spouse can move for a temporary spousal support order, which will last throughout the duration of the divorce proceedings. The amount that the other spouse has to pay is usually determined by a relatively strict formula. The spousal support formula used is determined by each county’s local court rules.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated Once Divorce is Final?

When the dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership is final, no strict formulas are applied. Instead, the court considers several factors and decides the amount of spousal support, if any, it will grant. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage or domestic partnership
  • The needs of each partner based on the standard of living during the marriage
  • Each partner’s ability to pay
  • The ability of the supported party to be employed without impairing the interests of children of the marriage
  • The age and health of both partners
  • Debts and property
  • Whether one partner helped the other get an education, career, training, or professional license
  • Whether there was a history of domestic violence during the relationship
  • The tax implications of spousal support

California courts also have the right to consider any other factors that might be relevant in determining a fair amount of spousal support. They may order a review to determine what, if any, marketable skills the parties have, and take those findings into account. The court may also order the supporting party to provide some security, or collateral, for the payment of spousal support.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

Divorce or separation and the calculation of spousal support can be a complicated matter. If you have concerns about your divorce proceedings, or about the amount of spousal support you are receiving or paying, a California family attorney or practice specific divorce lawyer can help.