Spousal Support in California: Calculating Payments and Modifying Agreements

There is a lot of financial uncertainty that comes with a divorce. California is a community property state. If you leave it to the court to decide, each spouse will get half, but if you do not, then you and your spouse will reach an agreement about the matter during mediation. To ensure that the judge makes a fair decision about alimony/spousal support in your divorce case, contact a Whittier spousal support lawyer.

What Determines Whether the Court Awards Spousal Support in California?

The deciding factor in whether a court awards spousal support in California is that one spouse needs the financial support, and the other is able to provide it. Alimony awards are common in cases where one spouse depended on the other financially throughout much of the marriage, whether or not the lower-income spouse was in the workforce. Unless the recipient spouse is of retirement age or is unable to work because of a disability, the alimony award is calculated based on the assumption that the recipient spouse will be working as many hours as his or her health and childcare responsibilities allow.

Temporary Spousal Support in California

California courts do not order former spouses to pay alimony every month for life; alimony orders simply specify an end date or state that the court will revisit its decision later about whether to renew it. Temporary alimony includes monthly support payments that the higher-income spouse must make while the divorce case is pending.

The purpose of temporary alimony is to ensure that the home mortgage and other household bills get paid while the divorce case is pending. It automatically ends when the court issues the final order of dissolution of marriage, at which point it may or may not be replaced with another alimony award. Despite this, it is often a subject of heated disagreement during divorce mediation, and judges must sometimes make decisions about the appropriate amount of temporary alimony.

Long-Term Alimony Sometimes Lasts a Relatively Short Time

By contrast, alimony that is paid after the dissolution of the marriage is called long-term alimony, even though its duration is not always long. By California law, if the marriage lasted less than ten years, the maximum duration of spousal support is half the length of the marriage.  If the couple stays married for 10 years or more, then the court can order spousal support for a longer duration.

Spousal support orders indicate conditions that would cause the alimony obligations to end early. For example, if either spouse dies while the order is in place, the entitlement to receive spousal support or the obligation to pay it does not pass to his or her estate. Likewise, if the recipient spouse remarries or enters a romantic relationship that resembles marriage from a financial perspective, the paying spouse has the right to petition the court to terminate the alimony order early.

Spousal Support With Indefinite Jurisdiction

In some alimony orders, the court indicates a date when the spousal support will end. In others, the court reserves jurisdiction to renew the alimony award after a certain period. When the spousal support order comes up for renewal, the court will review the couple’s finances to see whether one spouse can still pay and the other still needs alimony, and if this is the case, the court will recalculate the amount. For example, the amount of alimony you must pay will become lower if you have retired.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Spousal Support in California

A family law attorney can help you resolve disputes about temporary or long-term spousal support in California. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.



A Whittier spousal support lawyer can help ensure that the court makes a fair decision regarding the amount and duration of your spousal support.