Spousal Support

guideway legal: Spousal support may be indicated, depending on the income of both individuals

Do People Still Get Spousal Support, or Alimony?

In California, spousal support, also called alimony and spousal maintenance, is not mandatory, but if one spouse is making considerably more than the other, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay support.

This support amounts to 40% of his/her net monthly income, reduced by one-half of the receiving spouse’s net monthly income. If child support is part of the divorce settlement, the alimony is calculated after child support is settled.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?

There is a number of circumstances that may qualify you for support:

  • Those who can no longer afford the standard of living they enjoyed while married.
  • Stay-at-home parents who remained in the home and cared for the family, missing out on career opportunities.
  • Those who worked to put their spouses through school so that spouse now has a high-paying careers.

Conditions of Temporary and Long-term Support

According to California law, temporary spousal support is paid before the divorce is final, and long-term spousal support is paid at the end of the case. If you were married for just a short time, long-term support may not be an option, but you may be eligible for temporary support as soon as you file for Divorce.

As a lesser-earning spouse, the length of the marriage contributes to the amount of support that person will receive. In a short-term marriage of fewer than ten years in duration, a good “rule of thumb is that the lesser-earning spouse qualifies for support for a period that equals half the duration of their marriage.

In a long-term marriage of greater than ten years of duration, a more intensive analysis is needed. Often at least one meeting (but sometimes more) can be devoted to the issue of spousal support. Here, identifying your expenses is nearly as important as identifying your incomes, so each member of the couple will complete a detailed budget. The task is for the couple to find the right balance between the recipient’s need for support with the payor’s ability to pay support.

There are additional circumstances where spouses may continue to qualify for support when the other spouse is able to pay and the lesser-earning spouse is unable to work due to disability or age.

The Family Law Court Will Determine Spousal Support

Awards are based on each spouse’s ability to independently maintain their current standards of living.

The court considers:

  • Each spouse’s income and earning capacity.
  • Support for each other during the marriage—this is where the lesser-earning spouse contributed to the other’s education or career. There’s the example of the CPA who put her husband through law school, for example, and he’s now a partner in a big corporate firm. When they divorced, she made sure she was compensated for those years when she was the breadwinner.
  • Each spouse’s debts, assets, age and health.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Which spouse is the primary caretaker for the couple’s minor children.
  • Allegations of domestic violence.

The bottom line: Spousal support is for those who need support based on the other spouse’s ability to provide it.

How Can We Support Those Who Are Going Through Divorce?

Women, Divorce and the Economic Realities

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