During your marriage, your spouse has been the breadwinner. You’ve depended on his or her financial support for years, and now that you are getting a divorce, you worry about how you’ll be able to support yourself. This has you wondering if your divorce settlement will include spousal support.
In California, it is possible to include alimony in a marital dissolution agreement. However, it is something you have to ask for. There is no guarantee that your request will receive approval or, if it does, that you’ll get the amount you believe you deserve.
Spousal support basics
The purpose of spousal support is to help the non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse get on his or her feet financially following the divorce. California recognizes the following five different types of alimony:
- Lump-sum: paid in full upfront
- Temporary: paid during divorce proceedings
- Rehabilitative: paid temporarily after the divorce is final
- Reimbursement: paid to cover a specific expense
- Permanent: paid indefinitely
The type of spousal support you qualify for depends on the details of your situation. The court will look at various factors before determining if you are eligible for alimony, how much to order and for how long. Those factors include:
- Earning potential
- Marital standard of living
- Age of both spouses
- Health of both spouses
- Length of marriage
- Payer’s income and personal financial needs
Every case is different. The terms of your alimony order, if approved, will apply to your specific situation.
What if my spouse doesn’t pay?
Enforcing a spousal support order is much different than, say, enforcing a child support order. While the state has various enforcement options when a person fails to meet their child support obligations, the only real enforcement option for collecting unpaid alimony is to take the matter to court. The court may find your ex in contempt, which can have financial and criminal consequences. The big downside to seeking a contempt hearing is how much it will cost you.
It’s worth asking for
Spousal support is worth asking for when going through the divorce process, particularly if you feel you’ll need it to help you transition into your new life. While there are no guarantees, you don’t know what you can get if you fail to ask.