How is Alimony Calculated in California?

The divorce process is more streamlined in California than it is in most other states, with numerical guidelines instead of simply leaving it to couples to battle it out and judges to decide on a case-by-case basis what is fair. For example, California is one of fewer than a dozen states that follow the doctrine of community property, where the divorce court divides the couple’s marital property evenly in half. By contrast, most states are equitable distribution states, where each couple must decide for themselves the fairest way to divide the marital property. In California, there is room to disagree about whether a certain asset is a marital property, but not about how to divide its value if it is. Likewise, California offers a summary dissolution of marriage process for couples who were only married a short time and do not have children together. California even limits the amount of alimony a former spouse can receive after a divorce. To find out more about alimony in California divorce cases, contact a Whittier spousal support lawyer.

California Alimony Laws

In many divorce cases, one spouse emerges from the divorce in a much stronger position financially than the other. This often happens when one spouse was out of the workforce for most of the marriage. When this happens, the financially disadvantaged spouse can request spousal support, also known as alimony, from the wealthier spouse. The duration of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage, except in extraordinary cases where the parties were married for decades. The amount of alimony cannot exceed 40% of the net income of the paying spouse minus the net income of the recipient spouse. If the couple has minor children, then net income is calculated after child support has been calculated.

Resolving Disputes About the Amount or Duration of Alimony

Calculating spousal support sounds straightforward, but there is more room for disagreement than you might imagine. The disputes usually center on how much money each spouse earns or how much money each spouse should earn. When one spouse is capable of working but chooses not to, the court will impute income to them. In other words, the court assumes that the spouse will get a job and earn a certain amount of money and then bases alimony amounts on those figures. Of course, no one can predict the labor market with certainty, and alimony disputes can be redux of your old marital quarrels about how your spouse wishes you would earn more money or spend less on yourself and your relatives on your side of the family. If you think an alimony order is unfair, you can petition the court to modify it.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Spousal Support

A family law attorney can help you if you and your spouse cannot agree on an appropriate amount of alimony. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.

Spousal support is 40 percent of the paying spouse’s net income minus the net income of the recipient spouse, not including spousal support.