Spousal support, also known as alimony, provides financial consistency for ex-spouses following a divorce. If one spouse was the primary wage earner and the other spouse stayed home (or worked part-time) for several years, there will be a lopsided income base when the divorce dust settles. It is likely that the spouse who stayed home may have difficulty finding work or meeting the economic demands of their lifestyle.
While there are several circumstances California courts will consider when they determine spousal support, there are five broad factors that have heavy influences on the payment arrangements:
1. The spouse’s ability to earn a reasonable wage
Especially if they were taking care of the kids during a standard workweek, it is possible the spouse who was not working during the marriage does not have experience or a degree necessary for a job. Some companies may view gaps in a resume as a red flag. If the court enforces spousal support, they will consider the likelihood that the spouse obtains a job with a reasonable income.
2. The way of life during marriage
Family lifestyle will also make a difference when it comes to spousal support. Such lifestyle qualities may include:
- Shopping for clothes
- Marital home location
- How often the family dined out
- Quality of children’s education
It may be a surprise to you that a judge would consider vacations and dining out into spousal support. But in our current society, whether we are celebrating a child’s birthday or spending a day at the lake, we come to rely on our lifestyle for fulfillment.
3. The duration of the marriage
The longer you live under a certain income, the more you will depend on it. And, if a marriage lasted decades, the court may consider a longer spousal support timeframe.
4. Physical circumstances and age of the spouse
Old age comes with more economic demands. A spouse in their later years may require more doctor’s visits and help to get around. They also may not be able to find work, depending on their physical condition.
5. Whether a job will affect child-raising
If raising children requires too much demand on a spouse—to the point where they cannot bring in a suitable income—then they may also receive spousal support payments on top of the financial support for children.
Additional factors for determining spousal support may include:
- Whether domestic violence occurred during the marriage
- The effect of taxes on both spouses
- Various debts and credit lines
- Whether a spouse assisted with education or job training during the marriage
Depending on your alimony type, spousal support may last until the payee remarries, dies or obtains a high enough income to support their way of life.