Spousal support is a big concern in many California divorces. The dollar amount of spousal support is a big issue, but so is its duration. Whether it will be paid for a short time or an extended period hinges largely on the circumstances. Since the determination can vary and the court has leeway, it is imperative to have professional help.
What the courts will consider
Long-term support can be ordered in certain cases. If the couple had a long marriage, it is possible that the court will order spousal support to be paid for an extended time. If the primary breadwinner in the household had a vast income while the other was largely a stay- at-home parent, there may be long-term spousal support to account for that.
When deciding on the duration of spousal support, a judge has three main options:
- The order can be for a specific amount one pays to the other.
- There can be a reserve amount, meaning it is not paid immediately but might be paid in the future.
- The judge could end the need for spousal support.
The judge will generally start with a template. A marriage shorter than 10 years will warrant support for about half that time. For more than 10 years, there is no presumption. How much the receiving person needs until they can self-support and what the paying spouse can afford are also factors.
The concept of a spouse learning to support themselves is key. They might need to get education or training to earn a sufficient amount to no longer need spousal support. They could require payments to cover their living expenses and for that education.
The court factors in:
- The length of the marriage
- The parties’ ages and health
- What they earned
- What they can earn
- The marital standard of living
- Property and debt
- If there was a contribution from one spouse to the other for training and education during the marriage
- The need and ability to pay
During a divorce, understanding spousal support may require guidance
Whether it is the party who may be expected to pay support or the one who will receive it, it is vital to know the facts. The duration of spousal support can be just as important as the amount. How the law assesses these matters can be complicated and there are many variables. For this and other issues that come up in a divorce, comprehensive advice may be needed.