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Los Angeles Alimony Lawyer

Spousal support, or Alimony, is an issue that arises during divorce or legal separation matters. If he parties were never married, then this is not an option, no matter how long they lived together. This blog explains how spousal support is determined in California, and what a person needs to do to be awarded spousal support. It is also important to always remember the Judge has very broad discretion in determining whether to order spousal support, and how much support should be.


The modern family laws regarding spousal support do not favor either person because of gender, so either a husband or a wife could end up paying the other spouse support. Simply put, usually the person who makes more money may end up paying support.

Experienced Los Angeles Alimony Lawyer

In California, the length that spousal support or alimony is paid depends on how long the marriage is. If the marriage is a long term marriage over ten years, a Judge at trial is prohibited from putting a termination date of spousal support, and alimony could potentially be ordered indefinitely. If the marriage was for less than ten years, spousal support usually will not be paid beyond half the length of the marriage. The California family law code encourages spouses to eventually become self-supporting, so failure to make an effort to become self-supporting could result in spousal support being terminated.


While the divorce or legal separation case is pending, a party can ask for temporary spousal support until Judgment is entered in the case. Temporary spousal support is awarded to help a disadvantaged spouse establish themselves during the initial separation. The amount of support is based primarily on the current income of both spouses, and usually is calculated using the Dissomaster software. Temporary support is granted when one of the parties files an Order to Show Cause application asking for Spousal Support and requests a court hearing.


To get spousal support after your divorced or legally separated, make sure it was requested in your initial petition for dissolution or legal separation (you have to check the box that you would like it paid to you). Then, if the case is not settled and goes to trial, the Judge can order spousal support awarded to you. At trial, a Judge cannot order support as easily as is done at a hearing on temporary spousal support. The California family law code requires a Judge to consider a number of different factors in determining whether or not to order support, and what should be the amount of the spousal support order. Those factors are contained in Family Code Section 4320, which states:

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

   (a) 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:

            (1) 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.

            (2) The extent to which the supported party’s 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.

   (b) 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.

   (c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.

   (d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

   (e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.

   (f) The duration of the marriage.

   (g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.

   (h) The age and health of the parties.

   (i) Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

   (j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.

   (k) The balance of the hardships to each party.

   (l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court’s discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.

   (m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.

   (n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

The basic thing to pull from all of this is does the spouse asking for support need it, and can the spouse who would pay support afford to pay it. Now it is important to remember that just because spousal support was awarded in the Judgment, doesn’t mean that can’t change later. If there is a change of circumstances, such as the person paying support losing a job, support can be modified or terminated post judgment. There are automatic factors too, like if a spouse remarries, and was receiving spousal support, then the support would automatically terminate on the remarriage.

Spousal support can be vital to obtain during a separation or divorce, and can affect the immediate well-being of both spouses. A Burbank divorce attorney can help protect your rights in alimony, and insure you get the full amount you are entitled to under the law and the current financial situations of both parties. It’s also important to remember that even if you don’t want to ask for support at the time of divorce, but may want it later, you need to ask the Court to reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support, otherwise it will terminate jurisdiction to award support, and that door will be closed permanently.

 Contact Los Angeles Alimony Lawyer at MacLean Chung Law Firm for more information.

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