Along with child support, alimony can be a useful tool in helping the lesser-earning spouse remain on his or feet after a divorce. However, spousal support differs from child support in numerous ways. Californians should understand the factors the courts consider when determining alimony.
The Judicial Council of California states that a court case is required for spousal support to be established. This can be a divorce filing, but may also include legal separation or one spouse obtaining a protective order against the other.
According to FindLaw, family court judges do not rely on a set formula to determine alimony, as is the case with child support. Instead, the courts have greater freedom in making decisions for different circumstances. Usually, a judge will think about the following factors when determining spousal support:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The financial state of both spouses, as well as age, physical condition and emotional state
- The standard of living both spouses had while married
- How long the receiving spouse would need to become self-sufficient
- The ability the payer has to pay alimony and to support himself or herself
- Whether being employed would make it too difficult to take care of the children
It might be easy for spouses to assume that alimony automatically lasts for a set time, like child support lasts until the children reach adulthood. Each case is different. For some, spousal support may last until the receiving person receives an education and gains employment. Others could get spousal support for a set number of years, for life or until they remarry. Since this is a complicated topic, legal counsel is recommended for those who are seeking or being required to pay alimony.