Spousal Support (Alimony) in a California Divorce.

Note: This article is not legal advice and is not intended to apply to your specific situation.

Spousal support in California can be temporary, permanent, or both. California Family Law §§ 3600 and 4320. Temporary spousal support is payment made from the spouse with higher income to the spouse with lower income to provide financial support during the divorce process, and ends when a permanent spousal support order takes its place. For temporary support, Courts may consider various factors that may differ from court to court, and the method of calculation is sometimes provided for in the court’s local rules. In general though, to calculate temporary spousal support, courts will use the same guideline calculator that they use for calculating child support.

For permanent spousal support, Courts must use the factors under California Family Code § 4320 to determine a final permanent support order. Permanent spousal support does not mean “permanent.” For short duration marriages (usually those less than 10 years in duration), permanent spousal support is frequently awarded for about half of the duration of the marriage together. California Family Code § 4320(l). For marriages of long duration (usually those over 10 years in duration), courts have the power to not set an end date to the permanent spousal support order. California Family Code § 4336.

Statute For ORDERING Spousal Support:
California Family Code § 4320.

In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:

(a) 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 time to domestic duties.

(b) 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.

(c) 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.

(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.

(f) The duration of the marriage.

(g) 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.

(h) The age and health of the parties.

(i) 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.

(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.

(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.

(l) 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.

(m) 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 4324.5 or 4325.

(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.