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Understanding California Laws on Spousal Support

Couples contemplating divorce frequently ask, "What about spousal support? Can I expect the courts to grant me spousal support as part of the divorce?"

The question of alimony, although valid, is not easily answered.

The courts have a broad range of questions to ask when considering alimony such as the length of the marriage, the ability of both parties to be financially stable on their own, a spouse's contribution to the support of one spouse to become employed, or the amount of assets the couple has and the lifestyle they lived.

Length of spousal support

In general, California laws regarding spousal support is that in a marriage lasting less than ten years, the courts view spousal support as a transition from marriage back to a single life, and generally that transition is established as being half the length of the marriage.

In other words, if the couple has been married for eight years, and the courts decide one of the parties of the divorce is deserving of alimony, the length of that alimony is established at no longer than four years. If the marriage lasted two years, the alimony is set at a maximum of one year.

In the case of longer marriages, the courts are typically not limited to how long alimony is required to be paid, but generally, courts rarely establish lifetime alimony requirements. The ultimate goal of spousal support is to provide the receiving spouse enough time to become financially stable.

How much can I get in spousal support?

In general, when California awarded spousal support, there are several different factors that California judges take into consideration. Some of these include how long the marriage lasted, how much income was earned by either spouse, the value of each spouse's property, and other relevant factors. Only a qualified law attorney can give you a reasonable evaluation of how the courts may lean when awarding you spousal support.

What about spousal support for men?

Although less than three percent of divorcing men ask for spousal support, California is generally blind to the gender of an individual in regard to divorces. If either he or she can state a legal case as to why they have a genuine need for spousal support, then the courts may and will offer men alimony. An example of this could be that the husband helped put his wife through medical school by providing income and taking care of responsibilities at home. In this case, he could seek spousal support because he had to make sacrifices in order to help his wife with her job.

What if alimony is granted, but financial circumstances change?

If the courts grant your spouse alimony, of say $2,000 per month for three years, based in part on your $100,000 per year salary, and then subsequently you lose your job, and the next best thing you can find is a replacement job offering a salary of $50,000, then it's entirely possible you and your attorney can petition the court to lower the alimony by perhaps $900 or more.

Note, however, that such reductions are not automatically made. It's up to the spouse paying alimony to petition the court to show that your financial picture has greatly changed.

Similarly, if you are getting spousal support and come down with cancer that prevents you from working, it may be possible for your family law attorney to petition the court to reassess how much you get in alimony based upon your changing circumstances.

The Law Offices of Michael R. Young is Here to Help

When it comes to spousal support, having a trusted attorney by your side is vital. The Law Office of Michael R. Young has experience handling spousal support cases and will make ensure your rights are protected throughout every step of the divorce process.

Contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Michael R. Young today at (909) 315-4588. We are ready to answer your alimony questions.