In California, as in most states, there are a number of points taken into consideration when determining the amount of spousal support a person might be granted in a divorce case.  It’s important to note that only a small percentage of cases include spousal support.  The purpose of spousal support is to allow the person receiving it to bridge the gap until they are able to maintain an appropriate standard of living on their own.  So, it’s not a given that either spouse will receive support in a final divorce decree.  Below, our spousal support lawyers take a look at some of the criteria that are used in making a determination.

The Basics

What are the needs of the person, based on their standard of living while married?  What are the assets and liabilities of each person?  How long has the marriage lasted?  Can the partner that asks for support work without adversely affecting children of the marriage?  Age and health of each partner will be considered.  Can the person that’s asked to pay support afford to pay it?

Earning Capacity

The court will look at both parties’ ability to maintain the same standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage.  What marketable skills do each of them have?  What amount of time and/or expense is necessary to bring the lower earner up to speed?  Is education or training necessary to develop potential?

Time Out of the Job Market

Did one party lose traction in their career while taking care of children, or other domestic responsibilities?  Often times, one partner will give up their career, due to family demands, while the other person grows their position in their career.

Supporting a Spouse

When a couple is planning a future together, sometimes they make a decision that one person will work as the sole breadwinner.  Usually, this is because they have decided to further the education or career of the other person.  If this person has worked on their own to increase the value of the other partner’s career, the court will consider this when making decisions on spousal support.

Violence or Abuse

In case of violence, or spousal abuse, this is taken into consideration when there is documented evidence.  If the abusing spouse has been convicted of a crime for this reason, this will weigh heavier in the judgment.

Other Factors

Because California is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse’s infidelity is not taken into consideration when determining the amount of spousal support that a partner may receive.

The court may consider any other factors that they deem relevant.  This decision is left to the court, as long as it is “just and equitable” and within certain guidelines.

Length of Spousal Support

According to our spousal support attorneys, it is no longer that case that people are ordered to pay lifelong alimony.  The typical rule of thumb is that a person will receive support for half the length of the marriage, as long as the marriage is less than ten years.  Support orders can be modified or eliminated depending on events that affect both parties’ ability to pay or receive support.