Awarding spousal support in California divorce cases

Some California divorces involve spousal support, which is awarded based on the judge's discretion.

When a California couple chooses to file for divorce, the judge presiding over the case may order spousal support as a way to cushion the financial blow that comes to many people who are going through a separation. Some spouses may have become dependent on their significant other's salary to maintain a certain quality of life. Others may have put their own careers on hold while they supported their spouse's attempts at climbing up the corporate ladder. For whatever reason, alimony may help minimize the stressful, financial impact of divorce.

Spousal support considerations

Although alimony is not awarded in every divorce case, there are certain situations where a spouse may be ordered to give the other spouse monthly payments to help them regain a more independent lifestyle. Some types of alimony are permanent, or are awarded without an end date, according to California Courts. This usually occurs in marriages that lasted for at least 10 years. Other alimony orders are temporary, and will have a specific end date noted in the settlement. In many cases, temporary spousal support orders may last for up to one-half of the time that the marriage lasted.

According to California Family Code, a court of law will consider the following when determining whether or not alimony payments are warranted:

  • If the spouse seeking alimony has sacrificed their career or education in order to support the other spouse's pursuit of an education, career or professional degree.
  • How long the marriage or domestic partnership lasted.
  • If the spouse seeking alimony has any skills that would help them obtain a profitable position in the work force.
  • If the spouse seeking alimony is able to obtain a job without restricting their ability to care for any dependent children in their custody.
  • The amount of income earned by each spouse, as well as the quality of life the couple had grown accustomed to during the marriage.
  • The current health status and age of each party involved.

The judge will also look at whether there was any domestic violence involved in the relationship. Although certain guidelines are recommended in California, in most cases the final decision is left up to the judge's discretion.

Spousal support and gender roles

Now more than ever, women are rising to more prestigious positions in their career fields, and many are making sizable salaries to match their advanced titles. According to Communities Digital News, a Pew Research Center study in 2013 determined that 40 percent of all American households with children are supported by the mother's financial income. In a country where gender roles were once so pronounced, the lines are becoming blurred between primary breadwinner and prime caretaker of the household.

Contact a divorce attorney

People who are in the initial stages of divorce and are uncertain about their financial future should consider contacting a family law attorney. Not only will they be able to take an in-depth look at your case to determine if you're eligible for spousal support, but they can explain all of your legal options to you. This will ensure that you make the best decision possible.

Keywords: divorce, spousal, support, maintenance