How Spousal Support is Awarded in California Divorces

If you are getting a divorce in California, one of your first questions may be, "Will spousal support be awarded in my case?" The answer – it depends. Spousal support, also known as alimony is money that one spouse pays to help support their spouse after filing for divorce.

The spouse receiving the support must pay state and federal income taxes on the money, and the spouse paying the payments is entitled to a tax deduction. It's important that you consult with a divorce lawyer because if the order is not drafted correctly, you may not be entitled to a tax deduction – and you want that deduction!

How does the judge decide to award support?

When deciding whether to award spousal support, the judge looks at a number of relevant factors, such as:

  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age and health of both spouses.
  • The income and assets of each spouse.
  • The job histories of both parties.

Generally, if a marriage lasted less than 10 years, it is unlikely that the judge will order spousal support for longer than half the length of the marriage. For example, if the marriage lasted 5 years, the judge likely won't order support payments for longer than 2.5 years.

Perhaps neither of you need support. Still though, circumstances can change; for example, one of you could lose your job. If that's a concern of yours, you can ask the judge to reserve the right to order spousal support in the future.

A judge is more inclined to do this if your marriage lasted 10 years, or close to it. This leaves the door open so you can ask for spousal support in the future, if circumstances change.

Under certain circumstances, you or your ex may go back to court and ask the judge to modify the amount of support. This usually occurs when the petitioning party can prove that there's been a significant "change in circumstances."

Contact a Los Angeles divorce lawyer from Claery & Hammond, LLPfor a free consultation!