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Understanding California Spousal Support

In California, spousal support (sometimes called alimony) is an important issue in most divorces. It serves two important purposes. First, it helps each spouse maintain his or her standard of living. Second, it can address imbalances in spousal income during readjustment into single life (because each spouse's family contribution was not necessarily reflected by a paycheck).

At Denny Kershek Family Law Attorney, we can help you through all aspects of your divorce, including spousal support. If you are being asked to pay spousal support, we will work to ensure that the amount requested is reasonable and affordable. If you are seeking spousal support, we will work to ensure that your award adequately meets your needs and reflects your contribution to the family throughout the marriage.

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

A court is required to consider all of the following circumstances when contemplating an award of spousal support:

  • The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
    1. The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
    2. The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote to domestic duties.
  • The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage
  • The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The 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.
  • The age and health of the parties.
  • Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
  • The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
  • The balance of hardships to each party.
  • The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
  • The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.
  • Any other facts the court determines are just and equitable (Family Code §4320)

How Long Does It Last?

Marriages that were less than 10 years long are considered short-term. In such cases, the general rule would be for spousal support to last about half the length of the marriage.

For marriages that lasted longer than a decade, the court likely will not set a duration. Payments may be made indefinitely until or unless the paying spouse successfully petitions the court to terminate it. In such cases, he or she will need to prove that spousal support is no longer necessary.

Spousal support awards can also be modified, contingent on a successful petition. With any spousal support matter, it helps to work with a highly experienced lawyer.

Discuss Your Legal Needs With A Family Law Attorney For Free

Located in Poway, Denny Kershek Family Law Attorney serves clients in and around San Diego County. To take advantage of a free initial consultation, call us at 619-908-1899. You can also contact us via email.