Spousal Support in California

Alimony Spousal Support CaliforniaSpousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is the award of monthly payments by one spouse to another. A court may order spousal support after permanent separation or after a divorce is finalized.

For marriages lasting less than ten years in duration, courts typically award support for half the length of the marriage. For marriages of ten years or more, courts may award permanent alimony until the spouse receiving the support remarries or until the death of either of the spouses.

In calculating the amount of support, courts consider the factors enumerated in Section 4320 of the California Family Code. Among such factors, courts must consider: the income and earnings of each party; earning capacity; age and health of the parties; obligations and assets of each party; and the needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

Contact our team of experienced spousal support attorneys to answer your questions.

Permanent Spousal Support in California



Permanent v. Temporary Spousal Support


How is the Amount of Spousal Support Determined in California?

Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers are not intended to be legal advice to any person. This information is general in nature and an answer given may or may not be applicable to a particular situation. Family law issues are extremely complex and competent legal advice should be sought from a licensed attorney.

1. How much support will I get?
This is a factually driven determination based on the ability of the paying party and the need of the supported party and several other factors enumerated in Family Code Section 4320.

2. How much support will I pay?

This is a factually driven determination based on the ability of the paying party and the need of the supported party and several other factors enumerated in Family Code Section 4320.

3. How long do I have to pay support?

For a marriage of less than 10 years a non-binding rule is half of the term of the marriage.  For marriages 10 years or more each case is determined on its own facts.

4. Does my spouse have to work full time?

The supported party must become self supporting within a reasonable period of time.  A party may be ordered to seek full time work or risk having full time wages imputed for the purpose of determining support.

5. Can I ever retire?

Generally retirement comes after the children are over 18 (or 19 if full time in high school).  After that, no one can be compelled to work to support the other party after age 65, but support can then be based on available retirement income.

6. What if I lose my job?

If a modifiable support order exists, immediately file a Request for Order to have the court reexamine the amount of support.

7. Who pays for the house?

He or she who stays, generally pays.  Support orders are affected by the payment of deductible housing expenses.  Obligations to lenders or landlords may not be affected by support orders.

8. How does a judge make a decision on spousal support?

This is a factually driven determination based on the ability of the paying party and the need of the supported party and several other factors enumerated in Family Code Section 4320.

9. How is spousal support calculated?

Temporary spousal support may be determined by a local guideline.  Support awarded in a judgment is determined by the Judge.

10. Does spousal support end if I or my spouse remarries?

If you receive spousal support it terminates on remarriage unless a written provides otherwise.  If you pay spousal support, your remarriage does not terminate your obligation.

11. Will I have to go to work if I have always been a homemaker?

Usually, Yes.  Caring for very young children or paying for childcare that is so high that it does not justify the custodial parent having to work may create an exception.

12. How do I modify the current order for spousal support?

If a modifiable support order exists, file a Request for Order to have the court re-examine the amount of support.  This must be based on a substantial change of circumstances.

13. What if my spouse refuses to work but is capable to do so?

File a Request for Order and request a seek work order.

Contact Doyle Quane

If you need help with Spousal Support, or any other family law matter, contact a Doyle Quane attorney today.

Contact Doyle Quane