In California, a court can award one party permanent support as part of divorce proceedings. This award is called “spousal support” for married couples and “partner support” for domestic partnerships. It is also sometimes referred to as “alimony.”
California law has established specific requirements to guide judges in determining awards of spousal support in divorce proceedings. Prior to entering an award of permanent spousal support, a California judge is required to consider the factors set forth in California Family Code Section 4320.
First, the judge will look at the earning potential of each party and decide whether they can maintain the same standard of living established during the marriage. As part of this the judge will look at the marketable skills of the party asking for support, the time and expense it will take a supported party to develop marketable skills, and the impact of periods of unemployment on the supported party’s future job prospects (for example, a parent who stayed home with the children for several years and may now have trouble finding a job).
The judge will then consider the following factors:
- Whether the party seeking support helped the other person obtain training, education, a career position, or licensing;
- Whether the supporting party can afford to pay spousal support. This includes a consideration of their earning capacity, assets, and standard of living;
- Each party’s monetary needs to maintain the same standard of living;
- The debts and assets of each party, including separate property;
- How long the marriage lasted;
- Whether or not the party seeking support can work full-time without interfering with the interests of dependent children;
- The health and age of the parties;
- Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence or criminal convictions of an abusive spouse; and
- Tax consequences to each party.
After considering these factors, the judge will balance the hardships to all parties and review any other factors that the court believes are fair and relevant to the determination. The judge will then determine an award for spousal or partner support that will become a part of the final divorce or legal separation order.
Spousal support determinations in California involve complex legal issues. It is vital for you to be represented by an experienced California divorce attorney to ensure that you receive the awards that you deserve. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have years of experience obtaining favorable support awards for their clients. Call today to find out how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.