Divorce is an emotional and often expensive process. With every divorce, the couple needs to consider spousal support (i.e. alimony) after they end their marriage. California courts use a formula to see how much, if at all, the higher income-earning spouse owes the other spouse.

The 10-Year Rule in California

For the duration of spousal support, California uses the 10-year rule where the courts will only award permanent spousal support to those marriages that lasted for 10 years or more. Even so, courts do not like to award permanent spousal support. California courts want former spouses to become self-supporting. Generally, an exception only applies to former spouses who are too old or disabled.

On the other hand, if a marriage lasted less than 10 years, then the duration of spousal support will only be for half of the length of the marriage. For example, if Jack and Jill were married for 6 years and 2 months, then Jack will only have to pay spousal support for 3 years and 1 month.

Even with the 10-year rule, courts allow former spouses to set their own termination dates for spousal support and they can request for modifications.

Factors for Alimony in California

California courts use many factors to determine whether an ex-husband or ex-wife needs to pay spousal support, the duration of the support, and the amount of the support. These factors include:

  • Length of marriage
  • Income of each spouse
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Marketable skill of the supported spouse
  • Job market for the supported spouse
  • Extent of domestic duties performed during marriage that have impaired her future earning capacity
  • The ability for the non-supported spouse to pay spousal support
  • Each spouse’s financial obligation and assets
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Goal of the supported spouse to be employed and self-supporting

Although California courts use a formula to calculate the amount of spousal support is owed, the couple can agree to an amount by themselves.

Tax Consequences

Depending on how you draft your spousal support agreement, each spouse may be able to obtain some sort of tax benefit. For example, periodic spousal support payments are tax deductible, while lump sum payments are not. Thus, a lawyer can help you work out different scenarios to help you save money in some other method.

Consulting an Attorney

Although California courts use a formula to calculate alimony payments, a family lawyer can help you by correctly report your income earnings and entering into a settlement. Additionally, a lawyer can help you modify the length of the spousal support agreement.