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How Is Alimony Determined In California

Termination Of Spousal Support

How Spousal Support (Alimony) is Calculated in California

If either spouse can show a significant change in circumstances since the original order, the court can amend or terminate the support order. The court may alter or terminate support if the supported spouse is not making a good-faith attempt to become self-sufficient or if the paying spouse becomes ill or disabled and is unable to make payments.

Length Of Spousal Support

A general rule is that spousal support will last for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. However, in longer marriages, the court will not set alimony duration. The burden will be on the party who pays to prove that spousal support is not necessary at some future point in time.

The duration of spousal support is left to the discretion of the court within certain general equitable principals and guidelines most often set forth in common law case histories. In the late 1990s, alimony duration was linked to a transition period from married to single life. The circumstances vary from person to person, but the courts rarely favor lifetime support.

One appellate court put it this way:

As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.

California Alimony And Spousal Support

Learn more about California alimony laws and how courts determine spousal support.

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Alimony is officially known as spousal support in California. The award of support is not automatic in a divorce, but it is often awarded to assist a spouse with lesser resources to maintain a standard of living close to what they enjoyed during the marriage.

Here are several other things you should know if youre going through a divorce, and alimony is one of the issues youll need to resolve.

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The Myth Of Reimbursement Alimony In California

You may have read or heard about a type of spousal support in California called reimbursement support. There’s actually no such thing. When California judges are deciding how much spousal support to award, they’ll consider the supported spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s education or career. But that’s only one among many factors that go into the overall decision-making on alimony .

The confusion on this issue may have come from a reimbursement provision in California law on dividing community property in divorce. That law requires judges to order that a couple’s community estate be reimbursed for any contributions a spouse made to the other spouse’s education or training, when those contributions significantly enhanced the other spouse’s earning capacity. But that reimbursement might be reduced or offset under some circumstances. And the dollar value of the reimbursement gets counted as part of the community property that will later be divided between the spousesit doesn’t go directly to one spouse as a kind of support. .)

Other Questions About Alimony In California

California Child Support: Non

Infidelity does not have an impact on California’s alimony laws. Infidelity may have other impacts on divorce and for that, we encourage you to read our article on how infidelity affects a divorce.

Permanent or “lifetime” alimony in California is somewhat of a misnomer.

With rare exceptions, most alimony orders in long-term marriages state they continue until the death of either party, remarriage of the spouse receiving support or that spouse’s new domestic partnership, or further order of the court, whichever occurs first. That further order of the court language is what allows future modifications.

Therefore, when people talk of permanent or lifetime alimony, they usually misunderstand California law on this issue.

That does not mean that spouses cannot negotiate permanent or lifetime alimony but alimony by its very nature must end upon death.

If alimony continues even after death, the question becomes whether it is alimony. It would be best to ask your tax professional that question because family law attorneys generally do not provide tax advice.

Spouses can also negotiate alimony amounts that are unmodifiable until a particular event in the future, such as death or remarriage. Spouses can even negotiate that remarriage does not necessarily terminate alimony, although that is unusual.

Alimony has reformed to some extent already in California. In the much older days, hitting the 10-year mark almost felt like a retirement contract for one of the spouses.

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How Long Do I Have To Be Married To Get Alimony In California

No rule in California requires a couple to be married for a certain number of years to qualify for alimony. A couple with a marriage of any duration may have a divorce case that involves alimony if one spouse has financial need and the other has the means to pay. However, the length of the marriage may be a factor in the courts calculation of an appropriate amount of spousal support. Longer marriages tend to result in higher and longer-lasting alimony awards.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last In California

Hossein Berenji, Jul 15, 2021

Spousal support in California ends when a court order ends the payments. Support payments also end when one of the individuals dies. Likewise, if the person receiving spousal support gets remarried or registers a new domestic partnership, spousal support should end.

The length of spousal support payments depends on numerous factors. Some individuals may be ordered to pay temporary spousal support when a divorce case is pending. The temporary spousal support may become permanent or long-term spousal support when the court issues a final order.

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Can I Be Released From Alimony Early

One can be released from alimony or have their alimony arrangement reconsidered by filing an appeal. This appeal will be filed with the court as before, and it can be filed by either spouse. The goal of this appeal will be to modify or terminate the alimony agreement. This only occurs when a material change of circumstance arises or if the supported spouse is not making a good faith effort to become self-supporting. Additionally, alimony ends when either spouse dies.

Does The Court Discriminate Based On Gender When Ordering Spousal Support

How Is Spousal Support or Alimony Calculated in California?

The family law judges in Hemet, California are not allowed to discriminate based on gender for any issue involved in a divorce or legal separation case, including when spousal support is at issue. The United States federal law as well as California law ensures that biases regarding gender is to be avoided. Additionally, our partners have sat as Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court in California, and as a result they were required to participate in training and ethics to eliminate bias based on race and gender. All judges sitting in courts throughout California are required to participate in this training. Notwithstanding this required training for judges, they are human and natural bias or discrimination may play a role in their decision-making. It is helpful to hire a lawyer that knows the judges tendencies with respect to ordering spousal support before litigating a case.

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Why Should You Hire A San Diego Divorce Lawyer

Youll have to go through a lot of hoops regardless if you request or provide alimony to your ex-spouse. The process is overwhelming, especially if you already have a lot of things on your plate.

Fortunately, you can always ask for legal help from a when finalizing your divorce and alimony.

If youre finalizing your divorce, work with a to make the process easier. Smith Family Law will guide you throughout your divorce and ensure that you wont have any problems finalizing the amount of your alimony.

Schedule your consultation by calling Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. You may alsoor utilize our live chat anytime on our website.

How Spousal Support Is Decided In California

The amount and duration of spousal support paid in California is determined by state law after carefully reviewing numerous factors. The court has tremendous discretion in setting alimony. If you are unable to settle or resolve this issue, then your attorney needs to develop detailed evidence about each factor set forth below.

The controlling statute that the court must consider in establishing permanent spousal support states the following:

4320. In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:

The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:

The marketable skills of the supported party the job market for those skills the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.

The extent to which the supported partys present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.

The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.

The duration of the marriage.

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What Effect Does A Frugal Lifestyle Have On An Alimony Order

The court has significant challenges in certain types of cases. In situations where the spouses lived an unusually frugal lifestyle for their income, the court’s challenge is to determine whether the marital lifestyle will be consistent with the same level of frugality.

If the spouses lived an unusually frugal lifestyle and therefore accumulated savings or other investments, the court can set alimony consistent with that modest lifestyle to allow for savings.

Types Of Spousal Support In California

Emotional Support Animal Laws California

Basically, there are two kinds of alimony in California:

  • temporary support for a spouse during the divorce process, and
  • long-term spousal support after the divorce is final, including so-called rehabilitative alimony.

All alimony is based on one spouse’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay. Beyond that fundamental principle, the rules are different for temporary and long-term spousal support, including so-called rehabilitative alimony.

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Speak To A Spousal Support Lawyer Today

When youre requesting or being asked for spousal support, its natural to wonder how long alimony payments last in CA. At the Law Offices of Renkin & Associates, we can answer your questions and assist you in obtaining, modifying, and terminating spousal support orders. For more information about our family law practice or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.

Is Working Wife Eligible For Alimony

It is possible for a working woman to get alimony, but the amount she receives is tied to both her salary and her living situation.Therefore, alimony will be awarded to the woman regardless of whether or not she is working and regardless of whether or not there is a significant gap between her and her husbands net worth in order to ensure that she is able to maintain the same level of life as her husband.

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Gavron Warning In California Alimony Cases

The court has the discretion to make a Gavron warning oradmonishment to a supported spouse that advises the supported spouse that he orshe should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her ownneeds. This warning puts the supported spouse on notice that he or she needs tobecome self-supporting within that reasonable period and the spouse who refusesto become self-supporting could face a reduction or termination of his or heralimony.

Does Domestic Violence Affect Spousal Support


A spouse or domestic partner that is the victim of domestic violence may ask for support without filing for divorce or legal separation. An order of support can also be requested when one spouse obtains a domestic violence restraining order against the other.

When domestic violence is present during a marriage, the court must consider this as a factor when determining permanent spousal support, as long as the domestic violence is documented.

Under California Family Code 4325, in any case where a spouse is convicted of domestic violence against the spouse within the past five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that the perpetrator spouse is not entitled to receive spousal support.

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What Is The Difference Between Permanent And Temporary Spousal Support

Many family law litigants ask lots of questions about spousal support, or alimony. This page answers those questions. We are able to answer questions about spousal support with a high degree of certainty because we are family law experts, as designated by the State Bar of California, and we have decades upon decades of legal experience only in the area of divorce and family law. We have litigated and negotiated countless spousal support issues.

Termination Of Alimony In California

Termination of alimony is also a common request after adivorce judgment.

In short-term marriages, the termination of alimony issimple because the date is generally one-half the duration of the marriage. Theshorter the marriage, the more likely the one-half duration will act as atermination. An alimony agreement should be explicit about what that terminationdate is. The agreement should have clear and specific language.

In long-term marriages, the court will generally notterminate its power to award alimony.

However, the court does have the power to order alimony tobe set at zero or even terminate it after a certain duration of time. This isespecially true in marriages that are very close and just over the ten-yearmark or those where the supported spouse no longer has a need for alimony orhas failed to make reasonable efforts to become self-supporting.

For example, in a 10 1/2 year marriage, the court could setalimony for half the duration of the marriage and then, at the halfway point,put alimony at zero or terminate it unless the supported spouse comes intocourt before that date, seeks and has a hearing on continuation of alimony.

These can be minefields for the supported spouses and, ifyou are in a contested hearing, it is very important that you get clearlanguage from the court as to what it intends to do.

It is equally important to make sure the intent is specificso you’re not later at the mercy of the Family Court to determine what you andyour ex-spouse intended.

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Is Alimony Determined Before Or After Child Support

Now, in certain states, the amount of alimony that will be paid must first be established before a child support payment schedule may be negotiated. On the other hand, the reverse is true in the state of California. In the state of California, a decision about alimony cannot be made until after a child support order has been established.

How Can Her Lawyer Help With My Alimony Rights

Alimony Gifts on Zazzle CA

Divorce is a tricky subject and there may be exceptions to these rules. Though California is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex for any divorce, human and natural bias may still play a role. Its important to hire a lawyer who knows a judges tendencies before litigation. Our experienced divorce attorneys can help review individual legal circumstances and explain the possible damages you may be entitled to.

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California Alimony Laws Allow Temporary Support Before Judgment

Before there is a final divorce judgment, California alimonylaws give the court the power to order temporary alimony based on a spouse’sneed and the other spouse’s ability to pay.

Contrary to what some family law lawyers may tell you, theFamily Court can consider Family Code 4320 when evaluating a temporary alimonyorder. Family Code 3600 states:

“During the pendency of anyproceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the partiesor under Division 8 or inany proceeding where there is at issue the support of a minor child or a childfor whom support is authorized under Section 3901 or 3910 , the court may order either spouse to pay any amount that is necessary for the support of theother spouse, consistent with the requirements of subdivisions and ofSection 4320 and Section 4325, or either or both parents to pay any amountnecessary for the support of the child, as the case may be.”

Family Code 4320 and deal with domestic violenceissues. Domestic violence, when it collides with alimony in a divorce, can makethe case more complex.

We discuss Family Code 4320 in much more detail later inthis guide.

Free Consultation With An Alimony Lawyer In Southern California

We offer free case evaluations. We have offices throughout Southern California, including Riverside, Temecula, Palm Desert, and Anaheim. Call the Law Offices of H. William Edgar at today to learn more about our standards of representation and how we can advocate effectively for you during this time.

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How Is Spousal Support Calculated In California

The court considers many factors when determining alimony California, including:

  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Each partys debts and assets, including separate property
  • Whether or not supported party can become self-supporting
  • Whether or not supported party can become self-supporting in the near future
  • Needs of each party as determined by standard of living sustained during marriage
  • Whether or not one supported the other in obtaining education, career, training, or licensing

What Is A Gavron Warning


A Gavron Warning is essentially a court notice advising supported spouses that they are expected to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time. The goal is to prevent them from relying indefinitely on their former spouse to support them.

The Gavron Warning gets its name from the case , decided in 1988 by the Second Appellate District Court of California. The court ruled that before modifying or terminating a spousal support order, the supported party must be informed of their obligations to become self-sufficient. Around this time, courts began to move away from the idea of permanent spousal support orders in favor of the requirement that supported spouses make efforts to become self-sufficient.

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