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A closer look at spousal support in California

The issue of spousal support can be one of the most challenging issues in any divorce. It is an obligation that can continue for a period of time or permanently as one spouse continues to pay an ex-spouse. Because of the negative feelings sometimes associated with spousal support, it can become a contentious issue and lead to disputes. There are a number of things to know about spousal support or partner support which may make it a less challenging issue. What do you need to know about alimony during your divorce?

One of the first questions you may have, and things you should know, is how spousal support is determined. Knowing how spousal support is calculated is unquestionably important. There are several factors that are considered when determining spousal support, including the gross monthly incomes of both spouses. According to the California Family Code, a wide range of income sources are considered when evaluating the income of both spouses.

In addition to income, the court looks at the length of the marriage to evaluate how long the support obligation will be required. In California, the duration of the marriage has an impact on the duration of the spousal support. In circumstances when the duration of the marriage is less than 10 years, any spousal support obligation will not be longer than half the length of the marriage. If the marriage is longer than 10 years, any spousal support obligation ordered may be for a longer or indefinite period.

Additional factors may also be considered when evaluating a spousal support award. Factors such as the couple's standard of living during marriage, the ability of the paying spouse to provide spousal support and the recipient spouse's ability to earn money may all be considered when determining an award of spousal support. Age and health are factors that may also be considered.

Couples can also agree regarding spousal support but if they are unable to do so, the court will evaluate the factors mentioned above and make a determination. The family law system is equipped to help couples and families with a variety of challenges they may face such as if the paying spouse experiences a drastic drop in income or helping couples sort out divorce-related issues which is why it helps for couples to be familiar with how the family law process works.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Alimony - Are You On The Hook?" Caroline Choi, Nov. 13, 2015

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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