Spousal Support Statutes in California
In a divorce, financial matters can be some of the most complicated and challenging to resolve. There is a lot at stake, especially when finances have been unequal.
When a spouse who has been the breadwinner seeks to protect their assets, or when a spouse who has dedicated their life to their family sees their lifestyle slipping away, alimony becomes an issue. In these times, it is especially critical to have an experienced attorney on your side, one who understands California alimony law.
At Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, with law offices throughout California, we are dedicated to protecting our clients’ interests. We use extensive experience to achieve the best possible results in divorces, including California divorces in which alimony (also called spousal support) is an issue.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another to help ensure that the divorce does not leave either one of them destitute. In California, courts order spouses to pay spousal support to maintain their current standard of living. In this way, spousal support helps level the playing field in a divorce.
Our state recognizes two types of alimony: permanent and temporary.
Permanent alimony is financial support paid from one party to another after a divorce. The period of support has no end unless it is modified or terminated. Even when the spouses retire and begin collecting social security, the support continues.
For this reason, it is not common. An example of a case in which permanent alimony may be awarded is a marriage that spanned decades in which one spouse earned significantly more than the other homemaker spouse.
Temporary alimony is a more common type of alimony involving spousal support paid over a set period (for example, five years). The support is intended to help the spouse receiving support get on their feet after the divorce. This may include the financial means to return to school or for support in gaining employment.
How Is Spousal Support Calculated in California?
In California, spousal support is calculated by taking into account specific factors, some of which can be hard to quantify. California Family Code Sections 4320-4326 define alimony. They provide a clear breakdown of all of the factors courts consider. Some of those key factors include:
- How much each spouse makes currently
- The current ability to pay
- The current financial need to maintain the standard of living
- Each spouse’s ability to be employed and support themselves in the future
- Other factors, like age, health, and hardships
- History of domestic violence or other factors
Can Spousal Support Be Modified or Terminated?
It is possible to ask the court to modify or terminate spousal support when circumstances change. To have a support order changed, you’ll want to work with an experienced lawyer who can truly advocate for you.