How Spousal Support is Calculated in California

One of the most contentious parts of a divorce is determining the award of spousal support. There are two main types of spousal support: temporary support and permanent support. Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce process. Permanent support is paid after a divorce judgment has been made. This lesson will focus on permanent spousal support.

Overall, there are different purposes for each type of spousal support. Temporary spousal support is meant to help a spouse maintain a status quo until a final determination of support has been made. This includes the maintenance of the existing living conditions for the spouse. Permanent spousal support, however, is awarded to help a spouse maintain income for their needs and lifestyle after the divorce.

The time period during which a spouse can receive spousal support can depend on a number of things. In California, the courts often consider the length of the marriage in determining the duration of the support. For example, if a marriage has lasted for ten years, then support may last for five (1/2 the length of the marriage). If you have been married for longer than ten years, whichever spouse makes less income can receive spousal support for a longer duration according to his or her needs.

Permanent spousal support, also referred to as alimony, requires the court to consider many factors when making an award.

When reviewing Family Code Section 4320, the court will examine a number of specific things: 1) the capacity of each party to maintain the standard of living of the marriage; 2) how much the supported party contributed to the education or training of the supporting party; 3) the supporting party’s ability to pay; 4) the needs of each party; 5) the financial obligations, assets, and debts of each party; 6) the duration of the marriage; 7) the ability of the supported party to obtain employment without interfering in child custody; 8) the age and health of each party; 9) the presence of a history of domestic violence; 10) any tax implications; 11) the hardships of each party; 12) the hope that the supported party will be self-supporting; 13) criminal convictions; and, 14) any other fair and just factors.

By looking at all of the above factors together, the court will make a determination for permanent spousal support. That amount will then be paid monthly for the amount of time that the court defines.

The court will also consider the amount of support generated from a court approved calculation when deciding the amount of monthly support to set. In California, certain courts have developed guidelines with formulas for calculating alimony.

Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about how to a spousal support order.

California Spousal Support
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