Many California marriages end without either spouse ever having to pay spousal support to the other. However, when spousal support does become part of the equation, the courts may award temporary or long-term spousal support.
If long-term support is a possibility in your divorce case, it is important that you understand the ins and outs of this type of alimony. California Courts Self-Help Guide provides an overview of what you need to know about long-term spousal support.
When the judge may order long-term support
California judges rarely order long-term support in divorce cases anymore. However, “rarely” does not mean “never.” A judge may order long-term support following the dissolution of a lengthy marriage or when one spouse earns considerably more than the other.
The duration and amount of long-term support
How long spousal support will last depends largely on the length of the marriage and the payee’s ability to support him or herself. In cases involving marriages that lasted for less than 10 years, a judge may order support to last for half the duration of the marriage, or possibly less time. In cases involving marriages that lasted for more than 10 years, there is no reasonable length of time for support to last. A judge may use his or her discretion after considering several factors, including the following:
- The needs of the payee
- The ability of the payor to pay
- The impact childrearing has had or will have on one spouse’s ability to make a living
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each party’s current income
- The earning capacity of each party
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The amount of debt or property each spouse owns
The judge may also consider whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, career training and/or licensure at any point during the marriage. He or she will consider these same factors when determining a support amount.
If you believe that long-term spousal support is a viable issue in your impending divorce case, take steps to protect your rights as the payee or payor.