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How California Courts Determine Spousal Support

Deciding to get a divorce is hard to do after you’ve built a life with someone. In the event of a divorce, you and your ex’s life will change, especially regarding the management of your finances. During this time, it is important to understand how the court will determine how much spousal support to award.

What is Spousal Support?

When the marriage is presented before the court for dissolution, unless waived, spousal support will be considered. Under California law, the purpose of spousal support is to preserve the financial status and lifestyle of both parties. Support orders generally direct one spouse, also referred to as the “supporting spouse” to pay the other “supported spouse” a specified amount for a predetermined length of time.

How Spousal Support is Determined

Each court has their own discretion when they determine how much spousal support is awarded. However, under California law, they must consider several factors when determining how much spousal support to award. The court may consider the following:

  • The individual earning capacity of each party

  • 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.

  • The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support

  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage

  • The obligations, debts, and assets, including any separate property, of each party

  • The duration of the marriage

  • The ability of the supported party to get employment without interfering with any of the child’s care

  • Whether the parties shared a business and other investments

  • The age and health of the parties

  • If there is any documented evidence or history of domestic violence

  • The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party

  • Each party’s individual hardships

  • The ability of the supported party to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time

  • Any other factors the court determines just and fair

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

Generally, spousal support will last for half the length of a marriage if the marriage lasted for less than 10 years. For example, if the marriage was 6 years long, the court will limit spousal support to three years. For marriages over 10 years, the court typically will not set a specific time for the spousal support duration. In these cases, the support will continue until the supported spouses’ financial position changes or if the supporting spouse can prove to the court that spousal support is no longer necessary.

California courts request that the spouse who is seeking support make every effort to become self-supporting, regardless of the length of the marriage. A spouse who makes a claim to be unable to work or become fully employed will have to provide evidence to the court in support of the claim. Long term support orders may be reduced by an agreed-upon amount over time. Once an amount has been ordered, it is possible to request a modification.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for My Spousal Support Issue?

Filing for spousal support can involve providing the court with many financial documents. It would be in your best interest to consult with a spousal support lawyer with experience in the field. At the Law Office of Michael R. Young, we can help you calculate your standard of living to ensure you are protected in terms of spousal support.

If you need assistance with your spousal support order, call the Law Office of Michael R. Young at (909) 315-4588, and we will be happy to assist you.