Types of Alimonies in California

Hossein Berenji, Mar 28, 2022

Alimony is spousal support that is court-ordered to be paid from a payor (the spouse obligated to pay) to a payee (the receiving spouse). There are different types of alimony that can be ordered depending on various factors related to the marriage. It is important to determine which type applies in your circumstances to assess and establish your financial security (or financial responsibility). Discuss your specific situation with an experienced family law attorney to determine which type of alimony you may be entitled to (or be facing). Here are the primary types of alimony available in California.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary is just as it sounds: temporary, i.e., not permanent. But how temporary is “temporary,” and who makes that determination? 

This type of alimony may be ordered while a divorce is still pending. Temporary alimony helps with the costs of filing for a divorce or daily living expenses and is paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. 

These payments may be stopped once the divorce is final. Other times, they could be ordered for a period of time afterward. A spouse can be eligible for temporary alimony for half the length of the marriage (for example, if you were married for six years, you may receive temporary alimony for three years). However, for long-term marriages (typically more than ten years), a judge may order alimony indefinitely.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is a type of alimony that is awarded upon the finalization of the divorce proceedings. This type of alimony is permanent, meaning it will continue to be paid or due monthly either until the receiving spouse gets remarried or passes away. 

Permanent alimony is almost always awarded only if the court deems the marriage a long-term marriage. There is a presumption that any marriage lasting ten years or more is considered long-term. However, California law is clear that nothing specifically precludes the court from determining that a marriage is of long duration, even if it lasts less than ten years.

Rehabilitative Alimony or Self-Support Goal

Rehabilitative alimony is a form of alimony that is established to give the lesser-earning spouse time to be able to self-support or take care of themselves financially after a divorce. A judge in this situation would set a fixed or set period of time for which they will receive alimony payments. During that time, the payee (receiving) spouse has to either be looking for work or taking on some type of education or training that will help them find a job so they can be self-supporting. Typically judges can order rehabilitative alimony for up to five years.

Reimbursement Alimony

This type of alimony allows for one spouse to be reimbursed by the other for their expenses. For example, a judge may order a spouse to pay for college tuition or a work training program. This type of support will only be awarded if the ex-spouse supported the other throughout the relationship as the other was pursuing that education or training.

Lump-Sum Alimony

Lump-sum alimony is a form of alimony that is paid in full, rather than ordered to be paid in incremental monthly payments over a span of years. Judges can order this type of support in lieu of a property settlement. Therefore, instead of receiving any property or items from the marriage, you might receive a one-time, lump-sum payment. Other times, an ex-spouse might be ordered to pay off any remaining support obligation within a set timeframe. Typically, it is ordered to be paid immediately.

Contact an Experienced Spousal Support Lawyer to Discuss Alimony in California

General information and sample forms can be found online through the California Courts website for the Judicial Branch of California. However, an experienced family lawyer can best assist you in navigating this process and explaining how the law applies to your specific situation. The self-help center cannot offer you legal advice – only a lawyer can. Contact an experienced spousal support lawyer for a consultation regarding your case.