Understanding Alimony in California

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsAlimony is referred to as “Spousal Support” in California.  When a divorce is under process, the court might require that the partner with the higher income has to pay the other partner a certain amount so that they can cope with their current lifestyle.

The duration of alimony

Spousal support is usually paid for a predetermined period of time. It could be spread over a period of time or paid in full during a one time payment. The duration of the support period usually depends on the length of the marriage. If the marriage has lasted over 10 years, then the court most probably will not set a specific termination date for the support to end and both partners can request modification or termination of support at later hearings.  These days, judges don’t order permanent support even for long term marriages, although it is sometimes referred to as permanent support by attorneys.

How is spousal support calculated?

In California, the court can request for spousal support for any amount, after taking the needs of the other partner into consideration. The aim of spousal support is to maintain the financial status that was present during the marriage while also making the supported spouse independent. Certain courts have their own formulas for calculating the support amount. If the supported spouse has dependent children then child support will be in addition to the spousal support payments.

Before deciding the amount of the payments, courts usually take various factors into consideration. These include the dependent spouse’s current financial status, his/her ability to get and hold a job, the current job market, support required for the dependent spouse to get a vocational education or improve existing skills in order to get a stable job. Other factors like age, health and legal issues like domestic violence during the course of the marriage are also considered.

For periodical payments, the recipient is taxed for the payment while the sender can list it as tax-deductibles. Spouses can also have predetermined agreements to make sure that the tax scenario is beneficial for both parties.

Termination or Modification

If the spouses have a pre-written agreement not to modify the spousal support terms, then they are required to follow the terms. Otherwise, either partner can request for changes or termination of support. If either of the divorcees die or if the supported spouse gets remarried, then the spousal support will end.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation