Alimony in California is called “spousal support”. When a married couple divorces a court may require the higher earner to assist the lower earner in maintaining that lifestyle for some period of time, hence alimony in the form of “spousal support”. Understanding what spousal support means can predetermine how each spouse views alimony and their decision on how they will handle their divorce case.
In California, a judge may award temporary support during divorce trials, as well as support after a divorce is final. Spousal support orders usually direct one spouse to pay the other a specific amount of money continually for a scheduled period of time. The amount of spousal support is calculated by subtracting 50% of the lower-earner’s net income from 40% of the higher earner’s, with adjustments for tax consequences and child support payments (if applicable). Spousal support can also consist of a one-time lump-sum payment. At times, spouses can agree between themselves on the terms and conditions of support payments.
The duration of spousal support in California is often tied to the length of the marriage. For a marriage of less than 10 years, a court won’t typically order support for longer than half the length of the marriage. If a marriage has lasted 10 years or more, the court commonly won’t set a definite end date for spousal support at the time of the divorce. At all times, both spouses have the right to request modification, unless they specifically agree to a termination date, or the court clearly terminates support at a later trial.
While courts and attorneys often refer to post-divorce spousal support as “permanent”, it is rare for a judge to order true permanent support. California courts require a spouse seeking support to make the effort to become self-supporting, regardless of the length of a marriage. A spouse who claims an inability to work, or an inability to become fully employed, will have to support this claim with evidence. True permanent spousal support is generally reserved for spouses who lack the ability to become self-supporting due to age or disability.
Alimony can be a complex part of your divorce and in contested cases, can become one of the most difficult aspects of your California divorce trial. If you have specific questions about alimony and divorce contact Thorsteinson Law Group, your trusted and experienced divorce and family law attorney.