Spousal Support

Spousal support is characterized by the amount of support, the duration of support and the jurisdiction of the Court over the issue of support. The court has great latitude and discretion in determining spousal support; however, the court will examine the totality of the relationship when making its final decision. In marriages of ten years or less, support is commonly granted for half the length of the marriage. In divorces of marriages that are more than ten years – by statute, considered a lengthy marriage – the court will generally not create a future date of termination of spousal support or jurisdiction over spousal support.

Determining Alimony Under California Law

In California, state law give the courts a great deal of discretion in determining if an award of spousal support is appropriate, and if so, how much and for how long. A couple may agree between themselves on temporary or permanent spousal support. Otherwise, your attorney will help you document the various factors that go into the court’s decision on the amount and duration of support; these may include:

  • Whether the earning capacity of each divorcing spouse is enough to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • What marketable skills the party applying for support possesses, the current demand for those skills in the marketplace, or the amount of time and the cost of education or job training to develop those skills or to acquire a new set of marketable skills
  • How much the person requesting support gave up in current and future earning capacity as a result of leaving the workforce to perform domestic duties, such as caring for the home and raising children
  • How much the supported spouse contributed to the supporting spouse’s career and earning capability, for example, by providing for the family while the other was attending school to obtain a college degree or professional certification
  • Whether the supporting party is capable of paying alimony, based on earnings, unearned income, assets, and lifestyle
  • The needs of each party, in accordance with the standard of living while married
  • The age and health of each party
  • The assets and obligations of each party, including assets separate from community property
  • How long the couple were married
  • The ability of the supported party with child custody to work outside the home; without a significant negative impact on the children
  • Whether there is any documented history of domestic violence
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • How much time will be reasonably needed for the party being supported to become self-supporting

Your interests are best served by having a skilled and experienced attorney work up the arguments that support your interests and present a well-document case to the court.