Divorce can be an emotional, drawn-out process. Once the court legally terminates your marriage, you are usually free to move on with your life. But in some divorce cases, it doesn’t mean you’re done supporting your spouse even if your marriage is over.
While it is not ordered in every divorce case, spousal support can be an important aspect for some couples. The family law experts at Di Maria & Cone have compiled answers to frequently asked questions regarding spousal support.
What is spousal support?
Spousal support – also called alimony or spousal maintenance – is court-ordered financial assistance paid from one former partner (payor spouse) to the other (supported spouse) once the divorce has been finalized. This form of financial support allows the person who relied primarily on their partner’s income during their marriage to support themselves and maintain their lifestyle.
The courts commonly grant spousal support in cases where the couple was married for an extended time, when one partner postponed their career to raise the children and handle household matters, or when one partner made significantly more money than the other.
What are the different types of spousal support?
Not all spousal support is created equal. Monetary awards can vary greatly in amount and duration depending on the facts and circumstances of each divorce case. When determining what type of spousal support to award, the judge orders an appropriate amount, and duration can be decided based on the supported spouse’s needs and the payor spouse’s ability to pay.
Five types of spousal support can be awarded in the State of California:
- Temporary alimony: The payee spouse makes support payments to the supported spouse during the divorce process. These payments can include attorney costs and daily expenses. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary spousal support payments are terminated.
- Permanent alimony: The payee spouse continues to make support payments to the supported spouse after the divorce is finalized. Payments are on a monthly, recurring basis and continue until the death or remarriage of the supported partner.
- Rehabilitative alimony: The payor spouse makes support payments to the supported spouse while they receive further training or education to expand their employability or find a job. The support payments end after a specific period or when the payee spouse becomes self-supporting.
- Reimbursement alimony: The purpose of this support is to reimburse one spouse for the expense of the other. For example, if the supported spouse needs to seek further education or training, the payor spouse may be ordered to pay the costs.
- Lump-sum alimony: In the event, one spouse does not want any marital assets, this type of spousal support is ordered instead of a property settlement. The other spouse provides a one-time, lump-sum payment in place of property or other items from the marriage.
What factors are considered in determining spousal support?
When looking at who should pay spousal support, and in what amount, the judge considers each spouse’s earning capacity and if that is sufficient to maintain the marital standard of living. A long list of factors are considered including:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of each spouse
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Payor spouse’s ability to provide spousal support
- Each spouses’ financial needs (based on the marital standard of living)
- Each spouse’s debts and assets, including separate property
- Contributions each spouse made during the marriage (i.e. paying for education or training, staying at home to raise children)
- Age of children
- Prenuptial agreement
The Family Law Attorneys at Di Maria & Cone has been serving clients in the Palo Alto and San Francisco Bay area since 1946. Whatever unique family law needs you may have, we will advocate for you during all stages of your case. To learn more or schedule a free one-half-hour consultation, call us at (650) 321-4460 or fill out our contact form.