In the State of California, the court has the authority to order spousal support payable by one party to the other. Spousal support, also known as alimony or marital support, is based upon several factors established in the California Family Code.
Unlike child support, spousal support is not determined by a state-developed formula. However, the court uses criteria set forth in the Family Code to determine whether the issue of spousal support is relevant and the amount of spousal support that would be appropriate. This criteria includes, but is not limited to the:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of both parties
- Size of the estate to be divided
- Actual and potential income of the respective parties based upon the assets awarded to them
- Ability to earn an income utilizing their own skills and efforts
The amount of spousal support is not open-ended, in that the court only has the authority to order spousal support sufficient to allow the supported party to maintain the marital standard of living.
Spousal support is one of the most litigated divorce issues due to the fact that there are several components and several arguments that greatly affect the amount of spousal support to be paid by one party to the other. Under the California Family Code, the length of the marriage contract has great impact on the issue of spousal support. In the case of long-duration marriages (more than ten years), the court is mandated to maintain jurisdiction to order spousal support until the death of either party or the remarriage of the supported party. In the case of short-term marriages (less than ten years), it is the goal of the State that the supported party be self-supporting within a time period that is half the duration of the marriage.
There are several controlling cases and several Family Code sections that affect the court’s decision with regard to spousal support. At Shawn Dickerson Law, we remain current in all areas of the law to consistently negotiate and/or litigate the best possible outcomes for our clients.