If you are considering divorce, you and your spouse are facing several life-changing decisions about your shared home, child custody, and dividing up your assets and debts. Separating finances can be one of the most stressful parts of the divorce process.
You might be worried about making ends meet on your own, especially if you have not been working. That’s where alimony comes in. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the legal obligation of one spouse to make financial payments to support the other spouse for a period of time. Spousal support is not mandatory or automatic in California, so the family courts have a lot of discretion when deciding the amount of alimony to be paid, if any, and for how long.
Types of Alimony
When deciding on spousal support, the California court system considers three types:
- Temporary – The higher-earning spouse will support the lower-earning spouse while the divorce case is ongoing. Temporary alimony helps the supported spouse become self-sufficient while transitioning from being married to being single and can last anywhere from 6 months to several years.
- Permanent – The higher-earning spouse will continue to make payments to the supported spouse indefinitely.
- Lump-sum – Although alimony payments are usually made monthly, a spouse might choose to pay the entire alimony debt all at once instead. Choosing this option allows the supporting spouse to fulfill his or her obligations while at the same time eliminating the need for further interactions with their former spouse.
When do you qualify to receive spousal support?
Even though alimony is not mandatory in California, if you can demonstrate to the court that you need the financial support, and your spouse is able to pay it, you have a good chance of a favorable outcome.
Every case is considered on its own merits, but there are several general factors the judge will take into account, including:
- Length of marriage
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Standard of living during marriage
- Ability to pay spousal support
- Financial need
- Age and health of both spouses
- Other information the judge deems relevant
The following are some common situations that would likely result in at least temporary alimony while the supported spouse becomes self-sufficient:
- One spouse relies on the other for income because of parental responsibilities, disability or health issues, adherence to traditional values, etc.
- If one spouse took time off from their education or career to help the other spouse achieve their goals or to take over parental responsibilities, they might be financially reliant on their spouse and need additional time to restart their career.
- When couples own businesses together, and one spouse takes over ownership after the divorce.
It’s important to remember that spousal support is based on financial need. Seeking alimony from a former spouse should never be about punishing him or her or unfairly enriching one spouse at the expense of the other.
An experienced attorney can help
Our family law attorneys at Lonich Polich Ehrlich Policastri have in-depth knowledge of the spousal support guidelines and practices in California family courts. We have decades of experience in helping our clients work through financial and other issues during a divorce. If you have any questions about alimony, please contact our office today at 408-553-0801 or complete this form to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation.
Disclaimer: this article does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.