Spousal support, or alimony, refers to the financial assistance that one spouse may agree to – or be required to – provide to the other after divorce or separation. It’s usually intended to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living similar to what they grew accustomed to during the marriage.
Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not guaranteed for every couple going through a divorce or separation. It all depends on the particulars of your situation. Unless you have a legally binding agreement like a prenup that provides for alimony, the court will consider various factors when deciding whether to award spousal support in a litigation scenario (in an uncontested process, you and your spouse can agree to whatever arrangement you want). Court considerations include:
- The length of the marriage
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
- The contributions and sacrifices each spouse made to the marriage
- The needs and expenses of each spouse
- The ability of each spouse to become self-supporting
- A history of domestic violence
These and other factors will determine the court’s decision to award alimony, the amount and duration. It is also worth noting that alimony is not gender-based as is commonly thought. Either spouse is eligible, based on their individual circumstances.
Learn more about how spousal support works
Beyond whether you are entitled to alimony or not, understanding what the law says about spousal support in California is essential if you’re navigating the divorce process. For instance, how much should you expect if you are eligible? Will the payments last forever? What if your ex refuses to pay?
These are some common questions that arise during alimony talks, and it’s best to seek clarity early on to safeguard your financial interests. Reaching out for legal guidance can help you find the right answers and make informed decisions about your future post-divorce.