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How Much Alimony In California

Alimony/maintenance/spousal Support In A California Divorce

How Spousal Support (Alimony) is Calculated in California

Alimony in California is authorized in limited situations and is not the broad remedy that it is in other states. Alimony in California is “rehabilitative” and is intended to be a short-term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet. Alimony is awarded to enable the other spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would enable the spouse to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment. Upon divorce, alimony can be used to compensate for this inequity.

A second reason for awarding alimony is the situation which involves victims of family abuse and where the spouse was convicted of the family violence within the filing of the divorce.

In most cases the award of benefits is limited to three years. Exceptions exist for persons suffering from incapacitating physical or mental disabilities. The amount awarded is limited to the lesser of twenty percent of the paying spouse’s average income, or $2500 — whichever is less.

The court may award maintenance for a spouse only if:

How Is Temporary Spousal Support Calculated In California

Temporary spousal support is calculated on a presumptively correct guideline formula and whats called the dissomaster, which should strike fear in the hearts of all support obligors and obligees.

What I mean by that is, were going to take your financial life, husband and wife, and were just going to put some input into this computer generator, and its going to pump out an output, despite your financial dreams, aspirations, the boat you just bought that you have leveraged, your mortgage in Hawaii, vacation rental, the home that you bought, your kids private school education, all of your financial life that you probably gave rise to this divorce.

Were now going to throw that all out and say that, Husband, you owe wife $4,000 a month in spousal support.

Its sticker shock, but its a presumptively correct guideline formula that the courts use. Under the relevant code sections, temporary spousal support is based upon need and ability to pay.

Thats the more subjective approach, need and ability to pay, but what the courts have done is they have found a way to do that, maintain the immediate status quo, by lumping the child support dissomaster algorithm and the spousal support dissomaster algorithm together.

How Do I Prove My Ex Iscohabiting

At your hearing, the Court will apply the rules of Evidence. The Court will not consider your evidence unless it is admissible. Not all evidence is admissible in a court of law. Social media, witness testimony and documentary evidence may prove cohabitation. However, the rules of evidence may limit the admissibility of such information. This is why you need experienced Orange County spousal support attorneys to make sure your cohabitation evidence is admissible.

It is also possible that your exwill admit to cohabitation, but argue that support is still necessary. More onthat below.

If you are not sure your ex iscohabiting, you should consult with a skilled family law attorney to develop astrategy for proving cohabitation early in your case.

Recommended Reading: Why Divorce Is So Hard

How To Calculate Alimony

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013.There are 31 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 320,808 times.

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Does California Allow Permanent Alimony

Understanding and Calculating Alimony in California

Although some people refer to “permanent alimony,” it’s very rare that spousal support is actually permanent, even after relatively long-term marriages.

Under California law, when a couple gets divorced after a marriage “of long duration,” the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely over the issue of spousal support . That means the judge will continue to have the legal authority to extend, reinstate, or adjust the amount of alimony. It also means that the judge doesn’t have to warn the recipient about the need to become self-supporting if that wouldn’t be appropriate under the circumstances. , 4336 .)

But the rule on indefinite jurisdiction does not necessarily mean that support will continue until death, just because a couple had a long-term marriage. Nor does it mean that the judge won’t expect the recipient to take steps toward the goal of becoming self-supportingunless that’s not feasible given the spouse’s age, physical and mental health, or disability.

The law presumes that any marriage lasting at least 10 years counts as lengthy . But even if a couple was married for less than 10 years, a judge may find that their marriage qualifies for indefinite jurisdiction because of the specific circumstances. .)

Also Check: New Alimony Law In Sc

Payment Of Spousal Support

The court will determine how spousal support will be paid by the paying spouse. When one spouse has a considerable amount of separate property or money, the court may enable the paying spouse to give the recipient spouse a lump-sum payment of property or cash.

Lump-sum payments are advantageous to the paying spouse because they eliminate the requirement for regular payments and the risk of the receiver later requesting an increase in support. A lump-sum payment will also help the recipient spouse because there will be no need to worry about the other spouse failing to pay in the future. On the other hand, lump-sum payments eliminate the potential of altering the award afterwards.

Typically, the court requires that payments be made on a regular basis, usually monthly. The paying spouses employer will receive an income withholding order from the court, instructing payroll to deduct spousal support from the employees salary. Income withholding is helpful unless the paying spouse moves jobs and fails to notify the court or actively quits working to evade payments. If the paying spouse fails to comply with the court order, the receiver spouse can ask the court to intervene to collect the lost payments.

How Long Do You Have To Pay Alimony If The Other Person Refuses To Become Self

We wrote an article on this topic of Gavron warnings in California. We encourage you to read it.

A spouse who receives alimony and who has been given an admonition to become self-supporting plays a dangerous game if he or she fails to make reasonable efforts to become self-supporting.

In such a circumstance, the court has the power to reduce alimony or eliminate it altogether.

Recommended Reading: Cost Of Uncontested Divorce In Texas

The Court Sometimes Uses A Computer Program To Determine Temporary Alimony

The key word there is temporary alimony. There is a big difference between temporary alimony and the final alimony amount. Even the word final alimony you should take with a grain of salt because alimony is usually modifiable after a divorce judgment.

Neither an alimony calculator nor the computer program courts and lawyers rely on helps very much for the alimony at the judgment phase.

That alimony number is no longer the temporary number or even the post-judgment number. That is because California law generally forbids the judge to rely on any computer program to determine any alimony number except for the temporary number. In other words, it is really only good for the temporary number and not much else.

Some lawyers still use the computer program when determining what the final alimony number should be. Is that wise? It depends.

If done by an experienced family law attorney who knows what they are doing, then it may provide a range of potential numbers. But that takes some program tweaking and something I have not yet seen an online California alimony calculator be able to do.

Does The Court Only Look At The Good Times

How Is Spousal Support or Alimony Calculated in California?

Typically, the court will look at the last five years of a long-term marriage as indicative of the marital lifestyle. That amount of time can vary depending on the case. That stops at the date of separation when there was a final and irremediable breakdown in the marital relationship.

See our informative article on the date of separation in a California divorce.

Still though, that five-year mark is not a rule. Family law judges have broad discretion and may go back as long as they believe appropriate. Much depends on the consistency of the lifestyle in determining how far back the court will go. California alimony laws do not handcuff a judge. All the judge needs to do is use reasonable discretion.

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How To Calculate Alimony In California

If determined that you financially relied on your spouse during the marriage, the judge may order your spouse to pay you alimony. If all of the following factors apply, you are considered a “dependent”:

  • You needed the financial support of your spouse.

  • You don’t have enough assets, including marital assets, to meet your demands.

  • You are not able to support yourself through work or a job, or you are unable to work because you are taking care of a kid whose condition prevents you from working.

There are numerous criteria a judge will consider when determining whether to grant you alimony and how much you will receive, even if you can demonstrate that you are “the dependent party.”

That said, calculating alimony could be difficult if you don’t know what goes into it. A California family lawyer will know how to consider the factors that go into the amount of alimony you should receive or pay.

A California Alimony Calculator Is Not As Reliable As You Think

Our family law firm considered putting a California alimony calculator on our website but ultimately decided against it.

We did believe such a calculator may “look cool” and maybe provide a broad ballpark for temporary alimony but we also believed there is a much better way.

We write this article not to discourage you from using an online California alimony calculator if you want to do so.

We instead want to provide you with our perspective it is wiser to have a real strategy session with an experienced family law attorney. That is because in the strategy session, you get real numbers that are more carefully constructed and therefore more reliable. We will show you why in this article.

After you read this article, be sure to read our very informative guide on California alimony laws.

Nothing in this article is legal advice nor should it be construed as such.

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What Is The Marriage Period The Court Takes Into Consideration In A Long

The marital standard living and lifestyle can be difficult to determine in long-term marriages. For example, when spouses are married for over 20 years, what portion of that marriage should the court take into consideration when determining lifestyle? Is it the entire 20 year period? How would that work with a significant increase, decrease or wild fluctuations in the spouses’ lifestyle?

Length Of Spousal Support

How To Avoid Alimony In California

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.

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What Happens When A Support Recipient Remarries

There are several automatic ways spousal support ends under California law. First, if a support obligor or recipient dies, spousal support will terminate. Second, if a specific date is reached for which the parties agreed or the court ordered spousal support to end. Third, when the recipient of spousal support remarries, spousal support will no longer be payable to that spouse unless the parties specifically agreed in their divorce that spousal support would continue to be paid even upon remarriage.

How Does Making A Good Faith Effort To Become Self

Known as a Gavron Warning, Family Code 4330 states, When making an order for spousal support, the court may advise the recipient of support that he or she should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court under Section 4320.

This warning means that an ex-spouse is not entitled to relax and refuse to make a good faith effort to become self-supporting after the court enters a permanent support order.

Read Also: How To Know When To Get Divorced

Factors Used To Determine Final Amount For Spousal Support

In order to determine the final amount to be paid for spousal support, the court considers a range of information about each spouse. In the case of temporary support, the court will use a temporary support calculator to evaluate financial information regarding income, assets, expenses, and debts to decide on an amount.

In the case of the other types of spousal support available in California, the court evaluates a list of factors including earning capacity, needs based on standard of living, age, health, and more . To decide on an amount for reimbursement support, the court will take the amount of money spent on a spouses education and career into consideration.

How Alimony Works In California

How to Calculate Permanent Spousal Support (Alimony) in California

Alimony is generally paid on a regular basis, usually in installments of a specified sum per month. However, sometimes a judge will order one spouse to give the other spouse maintenance in a lump sum in cash or a transfer of assets.

The court cannot reverse the lump-sum awarded alimony. However, unless the initial court order clearly stated that periodic alimony payments were “nonmodifiable,” you may often seek the court to modify or terminate them. You will need to persuade the judge that the modification or termination of maintenance is necessary due to a material change in your or your spouse’s circumstances, such as the retirement of the paying spouse or the beginning of a supported spouse’s new lucrative career.

Some situations, like when the supported spouse marries again or both spouses pass away, result in the automatic termination of periodic alimony. Other specific conditions, such as when the supported spouse begins living with another partner, may cause alimony to stop or justify a reduction in payments, depending on the rules in your state, if they materially impact the recipient’s need for support.

A prescreened California divorce lawyer can help you with the specifics of alimony, how it works, and how you should approach it legally.

Read Also: How To Qualify For Alimony

How To Avoid Paying Alimony In California

California allows divorcing couples to have control over their divorce proceedings, including alimony issues if they can agree on how to manage the issues in the divorce. This permission enables divorcing parties to negotiate agreements and resolve their divorce cases without relying on California courts. If both parties in a divorce are able to agree that alimony is not necessary, the court will typically not insist on awarding spousal support. Hence, you can avoid paying alimony in California if you have a written statement or agreement with the other divorcing party to avoid spousal support, and the agreement is approved in court.

A prenuptial agreement also allows divorcing parties to establish alimony arrangements prior to their marriage. The agreement or arrangement may be used to either limit alimony to a certain amount or avoid it entirely. If you are unable to obtain a prenuptial agreement, you can also use a postnuptial agreement to avoid paying spousal support. A postnuptial agreement may contain elaborate clauses, including adultery clauses, which may restrict or cancel alimony for a cheating spouse who breaches the stipulated conditions. California courts usually offer couples a lot of leeway with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

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.

Read Also: How To Sue For Alimony

Retroactive Orders Of Alimony Could Lead To Reimbursements If There Is Adownward Modification Of Support

A retroactive order may entitle the spouse paying support tobe reimbursed for the excess amounts the supporting spouse paid during theretroactive period. For example, if the court lowers support from $5000 to$3000 and makes that order retroactive back three months, the court may orderthe supported spouse to reimburse the supporting spouse $6000 for theretroactive modification.

The court has a lot of discretion here and can order paymentover time or even offset it toward future support payments.

Family law courts are not just a court of law but they arealso a court of equity. Family law judges try not to make orders that becomedraconian in their nature and typically will be flexible with anything thatinvolves a repayment by one spouse to the other especially when dealing withretroactive modifications.

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