Alimony, or spousal support, is a monthly payment made by one spouse to the other, enabling the receiving spouse to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Whether it is granted does not depend on the receiving spouse’s gender. It may be awarded to the lower-earning spouse when certain conditions are met.
Thus, either spouse can ask for spousal support in California. The couple can decide on the monthly payment amount together or have a court decide for them. The court will consider many factors before making a determination. The duration of spousal support depends on the award granted, marriage length, and receiving spouse’s ability to earn sufficient income to meet their needs.
California Is Gender-Neutral When Deciding Spousal Support
Spousal support is not automatically granted to the wife in a divorce or legal separation. Generally, the decision to award alimony depends on the requesting spouse's needs and the supporting spouse's ability to pay. Thus, either the husband or the wife can seek support if they cannot provide for their basic needs because their financial situation has changed due to the divorce.
The amount of the spousal support award can be decided in two ways. First, the couple can agree on it and submit signed documents to the court specifying the arrangement. A judge will review the forms and approve the agreement if all is fair.
Second, the court can decide for the couple. The case may go this route if the couple disagrees on whether spousal support should be granted and how much should be awarded.
To request that the court make a spousal support decision, the requesting spouse must file paperwork stating what orders they want to be made and why they want them made. They must also provide proof of their income and expenses.
When the court is asked to decide, a judge will review the case to determine the amount the receiving spouse would need to maintain their standard of living and whether the supporting spouse earns sufficient income to cover those needs.
Again, the judge’s decision is not based on gender.
Instead, it is grounded on several factors including, but not limited to:
- The length of the marriage,
- The skills of the receiving spouse and their ability to acquire the education and training necessary to meet their own financial needs,
- The receiving spouse’s standard of living during the marriage,
- Each spouse’s property and expenses,
- One spouse’s contributions to the other spouse acquiring education, training, career, or professional license,
- Each spouse’s age and health, and
- Whether either spouse has a history of domestic violence.
Types of Support Either Spouse Can Ask For
A husband or wife can request two types of spousal support during divorce proceedings. The first is temporary support, which requires the supporting spouse to make periodic payments to the other spouse while the case is pending.
The second is long-term support, an order made by the court once the divorce is finalized. It is typically only granted in cases where couples have been married for a long time, and the supporting spouse earns a lot more money than the receiving spouse.
The Duration of Spousal Support
Whether the husband or the wife is granted spousal support, the award will usually only last for a certain amount of time. Temporary support orders typically end when the divorce is finalized. However, the couple can agree to stop payments before that time.
The length of long-term orders depends on several factors, most notably the duration of the marriage. Generally, if the couple was married for less than 10 years, spousal support will last for half the time of the marriage. For example, if the couple was together for 5 years, alimony may be ordered for 2 ½ years.
If the marriage lasted 10 years or more, the court would set the length of alimony for what it deems is reasonably necessary for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient.
Regardless of the specified end date of spousal support, the payment obligation could be terminated earlier.
Circumstances when this can happen include:
- When the receiving spouse remarries,
- When either spouse dies,
- When both spouses agree in writing to stop alimony.
Schedule a Consultation with Claery & Hammond, LLP
Family law matters, such as requesting spousal support, can be challenging to navigate. While you’re seeking financial assistance to help you through a difficult time, you might receive pushback from your spouse and their attorney. Retain the services of a lawyer who can protect your best interests.
Our San Diego team can provide compassionate and knowledgeable guidance through your case. Call us at (619) 567-6704 or submit an online contact form today.