How is Spousal Support Calculated in California?

When a couple divorces, the higher-earning spouse may be asked to make payments to the other spouse in order to provide him or her with financial support. Couples rarely earn the same amount in a marriage, and when a couple divorces, the lesser-earning spouse might not enjoy the same lifestyle as he or she did during their union. The courts often use alimony payments to balance the financial status of both parties after a divorce and to provide the lesser-earning spouse with adequate financial support to pay for his or her daily necessities. However, the amount of spousal support awarded varies greatly in each case.

If you are being asked to pay alimony, or if you will request alimony payments from your spouse, make sure you know how the court calculates spousal support in California.

California Alimony Laws

In the state of California, the payments made from one spouse to the other are called alimony, or spousal support. Alimony is not a staple in every divorce, but it is very common. Permanent, or long-term, spousal support can be granted when a divorce is finalized, or individuals may ask the court for a temporary spousal support order if they require financial assistance during the divorce.

Because financial issues can be so sensitive in nature, couples often find the matter of spousal support to be extremely contentious. If you find yourself asked to pay spousal support or if you intend to ask your spouse for support payments during or after your divorce, make sure you know what factors California courts consider when deciding on alimony.

Factors the Court Will Consider

Even though couples can settle a spousal support arrangement amongst themselves during mediation, most spousal support cases are decided in court. When you take your spousal support issue to court, the court will review several different factors before making a decision. There is no starting amount or calculation method judges use, which is why alimony payments vary so drastically in each case.

California courts will consider the following factors in a spousal support case:

  1. The duration of the marriage
  2. The standard of living during the marriage
  3. The income of each spouse
  4. Whether or not either spouse stays home to care for children
  5. Each spouse’s mental and physical health
  6. The debts and properties in the marriage
  7. Whether or not one spouse helped the other reach a higher earning capacity by supporting them through school, training, or other career advances
  8. Whether there was domestic abuse in the marriage
  9. The tax impact of spousal support

In addition to each of these factors, the court will also consider whether or not one parent’s employability has been affected by the marriage. For example, if one spouse stayed home to care for their children, he or she may have a hard time returning to the workforce after the divorce and may need financial support as a result. Also, the division of marital property could have a significant impact on how much spousal support is awarded.

Do you need help with your spousal support case? Contact Alternative Divorce Solutionsto request a free consultation with our Orange County mediation attorneys.