When Does Spousal Support End?

In California and every other state, spouses have a responsibility to financially support each other. When a married couple decides to file for divorce, the spouses have the right to ask the court for a temporary spousal support order, which, depending on the circumstances, may be incorporated into the final divorce decree.

Spousal support, or partner support (for domestic partners) otherwise known as "alimony," is money that a higher-earning spouse pays each month to the lower-earning spouse as a part of one of the following court actions:

Once one of the above actions are filed, either spouse has the right to request temporary spousal support. A lower-earning spouse reserves the right to request temporary support, even if they are working full-time, especially if he or she earns significantly less money than their husband or wife.

Spousal Support is Not Automatic

Spousal support is not automatically awarded in all California divorce cases. It comes down to a number of factors, such as the petitioning spouse's need for support, and whether their husband or wife can afford to pay it. When deciding whether to award spousal support, the judge will consider the following factors:

  • The duration of the couple's marriage
  • The age and health of the spouses
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Contributions as a homemaker
  • Each spouse's individual income and assets
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • Any other relevant information

Generally, spousal support in California is awarded for one-half the length of a couple's marriage. So, if the marriage lasted six years, spousal support will likely be awarded for three years. There is an exception for marriages of a "long duration," that is marriages that lasted 10 or more years.

In a marriage of long duration, the spousal support may be awarded indefinitely.

In California, spousal support ends when:

  • A judgement or court order says it will end,
  • One of the spouses passes away, or
  • The supported spouse remarries or enters into a new domestic partnership.

For tax purposes, spousal support is tax deductible for the paying spouse and it is counted as income by the receiving spouse – that is something to remember the next time you file your taxes!

For further information about spousal support in a San Diego divorce case, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free case evaluation!