Spousal Support and Alimony

Spousal Support and Alimony

The California courts are under no obligation to award spousal support. Even when spousal support is issued, judges have broad discretion to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments. At Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri, we have extensive experience in handling spousal support matters. We have an in-depth understanding of California spousal support guidelines, and we know how to assess our client’s marital and financial situation in relation to those guidelines.

California Spousal Support

Spousal support decisions are often made twice during a divorce. Temporary spousal support may be ordered while a divorce is pending. Once a divorce is final, there may be another order granting permanent support, rehabilitative spousal support or lump-sum alimony.

Just because temporary alimony was ordered does not imply that spousal support will continue once a divorce is final.

The courts use 13 factors when considering the issues related to post-divorce spousal support:

  • Extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage
  • Extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, a career position or a license of the supporting party
  • Ability to pay of the supporting party, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets and standard of living
  • Needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage
  • Obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party
  • Age and health of the parties
  • Immediate and specific tax consequences to each party
  • Balance of the hardships to each party
  • Goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. A “reasonable period of time” is generally defined as one-half the length of the marriage. However, the court retains discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time based on other relevant factors and the circumstances of the parties.
  • Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable

In situations where it can be demonstrated that both parties have sufficient income or separate property to support themselves, it is unlikely that a spousal support order will be issued. In addition, child custody and domestic violence issues can have a significant impact on spousal support decisions.

Modification of Spousal Support

Spousal support is one of the most frequently modified parts of a divorce decree. There is a wide range of issues that can lead to a spousal support order being modified. Some of those issues include loss of a job, remarriage, or the spouse receiving alimony acquiring a higher paying job.