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Understanding spousal support awards in California

Alimony, oftentimes referred to as spousal support, can be an acrimonious issue in many divorces. Spousal support can vary but can be awarded on an indefinite basis and a continuing financial obligation between divorcing couples can be frustrating. Spousal support is a reality in many divorces which is why being prepared for it can help the parties better navigate the issue of alimony.

When determining spousal support in California, the court considers the income of both spouses. Any spousal support that will be required is first calculated via a computer program. The court also considers the length of the marriage which will determine how long the paying spouse will owe alimony to the ex-spouse following the divorce.

The court may consider additional factors when ordering spousal support, including the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage, the ability of the paying spouse to pay spousal support and the recipient spouse's earning capacity. The age and health of the spouses is also considered.

Couples may be able to agree to settlement or spousal support buy out when the circumstances permit. Some parties may also decide to decline spousal support or the court may require that some spouses who are receiving spousal support and are able to work obtain employment. It is important to keep in mind for spouses struggling to make spousal support payments, due to a decrease in income for example, that options to help them may be available through the family law legal process. Because of the potentially long-term implications of spousal support, it is important for divorcing couples to be well informed when approaching the subject during a divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Alimony -- Are You On The Hook?" Caroline Choi, Nov. 13, 2014

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