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How much spousal support can a California divorce court order?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Spousal Support

When a wealthy Orange County couple gets divorced, it’s common for one spouse to request spousal support, commonly known as alimony. There are a lot of myths about how alimony works in California that can lead to unnecessary conflict and confusion between divorcing spouses. This post will hopefully clear up some misconceptions.

There are actually two forms of spousal support. The first is for the period between the separation and the final divorce decree. A spouse who lacks the earning power or financial resources to support themselves before the property division is complete asks the court to order the other spouse to pay temporary support. A commonly used formula to determine how much this support should be is to take 40 percent of the paying spouse’s monthly income and subtract 50 percent of the receiving spouse’s income. But state law allows family court judges to use their own method for determining temporary alimony during divorce proceedings.

Support until self-sufficiency

Alimony that begins after your divorce is complete is called rehabilitative support. As that term implies, its purpose is to give a divorced person a safety net until they can support themselves financially. This could mean the judge will order support to last long enough for the former spouse to get the training or education needed to get a job and sufficient income.

The judge will monitor the recipient to see how they are making progress toward self-sufficiency. They will also consider motions from either party to amend the alimony or end it early.

Alimony considerations

The amount of rehabilitative support ordered depends on factors like:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s needs
  • The spouses’ ages and health
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How much each spouse owns in separate property

Although many people believe that permanent alimony is easy to obtain, it is rare in California. Only in cases where the recipient’s age, health or disability status will prevent them from ever becoming capable of supporting themselves.

If you expect alimony to be a factor in your divorce, you need to make sure the outcome is fair to you and your financial realities, as part of the larger financial settlement.