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Calculating spousal support in California

Amid all the other changes it brings, divorce also means alterations of financial situations. If you are going through a California divorce or legal separation, you or your spouse may have to pay the other party spousal support, also referred to as alimony.

Spousal support is frequently one of the most hotly contested matters during divorce proceedings. There are numerous factors involved in determining which party in the marriage must pay the other, and how much.

Types of support

There are two main types of spousal support a court can order: temporary support and permanent support. You may be able to have a temporary support order enacted while you are still going through your divorce. A permanent support order, on the other hand, takes effect once the divorce becomes final.

The calculation of support

When issuing temporary spousal support orders, courts typically rely on a specific formula. The exact formula used tends to vary by county.

In issuing permanent spousal support orders, judges review a broad range of factors as outlined by California Family Code Section 4320. These factors generally include the length of the marriage, the age and physical condition of both parties, and what types of debts and assets each party has.

A judge will also likely consider how much it would take for both parties to maintain the standard of living for which they have grown accustomed, and examine whether there was any domestic violence or abuse that took place during the marital union. You can also anticipate that a judge will look into whether one party in your marriage sacrificed his or her own education or career for the sake of the family, or so that the other person could pursue a degree or some other type of career training.

While these are some of the factors you can expect a judge to consider in determining how much spousal support you will give or receive, this is not an exhaustive list. Every divorce is different, so what is true for your sister, brother, parent or friend may not necessarily hold true for you.

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