In California, spousal support is the term that is used for alimony. For registered domestic partners, it's referred to as "partner support." Spousal support is the money that the higher-earning spouse pays to the lower-earning spouse to help support him or her after the divorce action has been filed.
Usually, the spouse who pays spousal support gets to deduct it on his or her taxes, and the spouse who receives it has to pay state and federal income taxes on the money. It's important that you are assisted by an attorney to ensure that the orders are drafted correctly, otherwise you may not be able to deduct it as you should (for the paying spouse).
Is spousal support automatically awarded?
Spousal support is not automatically awarded in California divorces; it's awarded on a case-by-case basis. It comes down to need and the higher-earning spouse's ability to pay.
If spousal support is awarded, the judge will have to decide how much to award. In order to determine the amount, the judge will consider a number of factors, such as:
- The age and health of both spouses
- Each spouse's earning capacity
- The job histories of both spouses
- The standard of living established during the marriage
In cases where a couple's marriage lasted less than 10 years, the judge is unlikely to award spousal support for more than half the length of the marriage. For example, if the marriage lasted five years, the judge is likely to award spousal support for two-and-a-half years at the most.
When a Spouse Doesn't Need Spousal Support
What if we both have jobs and we don't need to be supported? In that case, you may not need support but keep in mind that circumstances can change, for example, you could lose your job.
You may want to ask the judge to reserve the right to order spousal support down the road. You have a better chance of the judge agreeing to this if your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
Contact a Los Angeles divorce lawyer from Claery & Green, LLP for a complimentary consultation.