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Understanding spousal support in California

Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, can be an important issue in most divorces. Unfortunately, the issue may also lead to acrimony between the divorcing spouses in some circumstances. As can be expected, there may be disputes concerning the paying of spousal support and the amount and duration of support paid. The determination of spousal support can be contentious, as the paying party will want to limit the amount of spousal support, of course, and the recipient party will view the spousal support as a type of support earned.

To resolve spousal support concerns, courts in California look to a number of factors to reach a fair solution. The court will look at marital lifestyle to help the recipient spouse maintain, as near as is possible, the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. In a sense, the standard of living during the marriage, and maintaining that standard, is weighed against the paying spouse's ability to meet the spousal support obligation and also maintain their marital standard of living. The length of the marriage is also considered and, in general, the longer the marriage, the longer the period of time the recipient spouse is likely to receive spousal support.

Spousal support, as well as all divorce-related issues, can involve strong emotions and the struggle is to reach an equitable resolution despite those emotions. Having concerns is normal so understanding each phase of the process is important and keeping in mind that many concerns can also be resolved by agreement of the parties is also important. Different divorce options such as collaborative divorce, or mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, may help couples achieve divorce-related outcomes in an amicable manner that all parties can live with.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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