Calculating spousal support in California
Divorcing spouses in California usually try to resolve their differences at the negotiating table, but thorny issues like property division and spousal support are sometimes left up to family law judges to decide. Alimony is ordered in California to prevent spouses being left at a financial disadvantage during or after a divorce, and it can be paid on a temporary or permanent basis. Judges can also award spousal support to domestic violence victims after a court has issued a restraining order.
Temporary and permanent spousal support
Temporary spousal support is awarded to ensure that spouses have the funds they need to pay their legal fees and meet their monthly financial obligations while their divorces are ongoing, and permanent or long-term alimony is ordered when divorces become final. While it is called permanent, long-term spousal support in California is not always paid until the person receiving it dies or remarries. This is because family law judges in the Golden State follow what is called the 10-year rule. When marriages last for less than 10 years, spousal support is paid for a period equal to half of the duration of the marriage.
Calculating spousal support
The rules for determining temporary spousal support in California vary from county to county, but judges follow strict guidelines when calculating long-term alimony. Factors they consider include:
- How long the couple were married
- The incomes and needs of both spouses
- The health and ages of the spouses
- Whether the receiving spouse sacrificed a career to raise children
- Whether the paying spouse helped to cover the costs of the receiving spouse’s education or training
Allowing a judge to settle divorce issues involves airing grievances in public and hoping for a successful outcome. This is why it is always best to settle issues like alimony through negotiation. If couples are unable to find common ground, approaches like collaborative divorce or mediation could offer them a private and far less expensive alternative to court.