Spousal support: In California, you have an obligation to support your spouse while you are married. Family Code 720. This duty continues even after you are divorced.
Are you entitled to spousal support (also known as alimony)? If so, this is awarded in addition to any child support. An award of spousal support is determined by the factors outlined in Family Code § 4320.
With or without a prenuptial agreement, either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other. In Los Angeles, for short term marriages (defined as marriages less than 10 years), the trend of the Judges is to award one-half the length of the marriage. In long-term marriages (10 years or more), one may be entitled to permanent spousal support, depending on the circumstances.
In awarding permanent spousal support, the judge must consider many factors, such as: each party’s income and earnings; earning capacity; age and health of the parties; obligations and assets of each party; duration of the marriage; needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage; education, job skills or occupation of each party, etc.
In California, there are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent. Temporary (pendente lite) awards of spousal support are awarded per Stipulation or Order via RFO at the outset of the litigation, which continues until further Order or Judgment is entered. Permanent support is awarded via Judgment.
The law regarding spousal support can be complicated and difficult. We provide articles on our blog which discuss a variety of topics, from Smith-Ostler bonuses, to Gavron warnings, to the 10-year rule as it relates to spousal support. If your spouse is not employed (and not willing to seek employment), you may want to consider other options, such as a vocational evaluation.
Beginning January 1, 2019, the new tax law impacts spousal support. Review changes here.