Spousal support, also called alimony, is the payment that a court may order one spouse to pay another spouse when a couple gets divorced or separated. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the economic welfare of the lower wage earning or non-wage earning spouse is not unfairly affected by the separation or divorce.
Spousal support can be temporary or indefinite, depending on the length of the marriage, among other factors. As a general rule, marriages lasting more than 10 years may result in support payments being paid until the supported party’s death or remarriage. Marriages lasting less than 10 years often include support payments that are paid for one-half the length of the marriage. Each individual case is different.
Generally, spousal support is ordered when there is a disparity in the spouse’s respective incomes and earning abilities. Unlike child support, the amount of spousal support is not always determined by a mathematical formula. Rather, under California Family Code § 4320, the court looks at a number of factors, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of each spouse to support themselves, considering the standard of living during the marriage
- Whether one spouse was unemployed for periods during the marriage to care for children or attend to domestic duties
- The income, education, training, and employment experience of each spouse
- The ability of one spouse to pay spousal support
- The property, assets and debt obligations awarded to each spouse in the divorce
- Each party’s income, earning capacity, marketable skills
- The time and expenses needed for one party to obtain training or education needed to find and maintain employment
It is important to note that awarding spousal support isn’t mandatory or automatic in California. Courts maintain wide discretion under the law to limit support amounts and durations, or to deny awarding any spousal support at all.
Whether you are the person seeking spousal support or the person paying spousal support, the Stockdale Law Firm, Inc. in El Dorado Hills can advocate your best legal position. We have handled numerous spousal support matters and we would like to help you.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Firm’s attorneys to learn how we can help you with your spousal support matter in Northern California, please complete this online request form.