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Helping Clients Understand Spousal Support Laws In California

Last updated on August 3, 2020

Spousal support is often an issue that needs to be resolved during divorce, particularly if the divorce involves a business owner or professional. However, the process of determining whether spousal support is warranted is often difficult to understand without legal guidance.

If you have questions about spousal support laws in California, the legal professionals at the Law Offices of Lynda Sheridan are dedicated to providing you with experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. Lawyer Lynda Sheridan is not only a Certified Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization, but she also has more than two decades of legal experience as a licensed attorney.

Contact the Law Offices of Lynda Sheridan today for a FREE 30-minute telephone consultation. You can reach us online or call us at 310-272-5357. While our office is located in Century City, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, including those in Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles and Encino.

How Do California Courts Calculate Spousal Support?

Spousal support in California may be required at two different times: after the court finalizes your divorce and while the divorce is pending, which is referred to as temporary spousal support.

Essentially, the goal of temporary spousal support is to maintain the status quo while you and your spouse are going through a divorce. In many cases, California courts will calculate temporary spousal support using a predetermined formula.

Conversely, the primary goal of awarding spousal support payments after a divorce is final is to maintain a standard of living for both spouses while at the same time allowing the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. Unlike temporary spousal support, spousal support payments ordered after a divorce are based on an analysis of several factors, including:

  • The property and assets of each spouse, including separate property
  • The health and age of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The standard of living and whether the spouse asking for spousal support can maintain this standard without help
  • The education, skills and job market for the spouse asking for spousal support
  • The time and expense needed for the spouse seeking spousal support to develop marketable skills and education
  • The tax consequences to each spouse

As you can see from the factors listed, the property owned by either spouse is an important factor considered by the courts ― making asset disclosures an even more critical part of the divorce process.

How Long Will The Court Order Spousal Support?

In the case of temporary spousal support, a court will only order it while the divorce is pending, although this can last for a couple years depending on the circumstances.

As for spousal support that must be paid after a divorce is final, it typically only lasts for a maximum period of one-half the length of your marriage, but only if you and your ex-spouse were married for less than 10 years. Alternatively, if your marriage lasted more than 10 years, the court will presume you were married for a long duration ― meaning spousal support payments can continue for more than one-half the length of the marriage.

In any case, spousal support obligations terminate when either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries, and the court can modify them when circumstances warrant.