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How is spousal or partner support determined in California?

Couples approaching divorce may have many questions concerning spousal support. It can be helpful to get those questions answered and have a general understanding of the topic prior to beginning the divorce process. In general, when couples legally separate or divorce in California, one spouse may be required to pay spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, to the other. In circumstances of domestic partnerships, one partner may be required to pay partner support to the other.

Spousal or partner support can be a complicated divorce concern. It is important to understand how the payments will be calculated, how long the payments will be required and what the tax implications of the support payments are.

Spousal or partner support can be requested in divorce or separation situations, as well as in some others. Depending on the timing, both temporary and permanent support can be both requested and awarded. Specific calculations of spousal or partner support in California can vary by county, so it is important to be familiar with how it is calculated in your county.

A number of factors are considered when calculating spousal or partner support in California, including the length of the marriage or domestic partnership; the needs of the parties based on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage or domestic partnership; the ability of the spouses or partners to pay; the impact of employment on rearing any children from the marriage or domestic partnership; the impact of child rearing on the careers of the spouses or partners; if one of the spouses or partners helped the other obtain education or professional development falling into certain categories; the age and health of both spouses or partners; the property and debts of the couple; the tax impact of spousal or partner support; as well as some additional factors.

Spousal or partner support can have a big impact on the lives of spouses or partners moving forward after a divorce or separation. Because of this, it is important for spouses and partners considering divorce to be familiar with the details of spousal and partner support in California before they begin their divorce process.

Source: California Courts, "Spousal/Partner Support," Accessed Feb. 8, 2016

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