Overview of Spousal Support in California

If you're headed for divorce, surely one of the first things on your mind will be spousal support. Will you be ordered to pay spousal support? Or, will the judge require that your spouse pays you spousal support?

When a married couple separates or files for divorce in California, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay monthly spousal support payments to the lower-earning spouse. While this is sometimes called "alimony" in some states, in California it's called "spousal support." In domestic partnerships it's called "partner support."

Spousal and partner support are complicated legal issues, thus it's important that you speak with a qualified Los Angeles divorce attorney.

Starting a Court Case

For an award for spousal or partner support to be made, first there needs to be a court case. Either a spouse or a domestic partner can go to court and ask the judge to make an order for spousal or partner support.

In order for such an order to be made, one of the following must apply:

  • It must be an annulment, legal separation, divorce, or
  • It must involve a domestic violence restraining order.

You don't have to wait for your divorce to be finalized to ask for spousal support. In fact, you can ask for spousal support while your divorce is pending through the courts. This is known as "temporary spousal support." However, support can also be ordered once the legal separation or divorce is finalized.

Once a case becomes final, instead of being called temporary spousal support, it is called permanent or long-term spousal or partner support.

It's at the 'Judge's Discretion'

Generally, spousal support is awarded for a reasonable length of time, which may be one-half the length of the marriage. However, the law also says that it's at the judge's discretion. This means that the judge has the power to make unique decisions based on the circumstances of the case.

There is one exception, and this has to do with long-term marriages. Basically, if a marriage lasted 10 years or longer, the judge may not set an end date for the spousal support.

To learn more about spousal support, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP!