A recent CBS Los Angeles story highlights a controversial issue in California divorce law: Spousal support, otherwise known as alimony. After a long legal battle over alimony payments, a divorced Huntington Beach man founded CalAlimonyReform.org, an organization with the sole aim of ending spousal support in California.
Agree or disagree with the group’s objective, it does raise some key questions:
- How big of an issue is spousal support?
- Who pays it?
- And what are its underlying purposes?
Read on to learn more about the structure of spousal support in California, and how to protect your rights in this often-contentious legal process.
Spousal Support is Not as Common as You Think
Many people imagine spousal support is a central component of divorce. The truth is; spousal support is relatively rare, impacting just 10 to 15 percent of divorces. It gets its notoriety from the conflict it typically generates, as many divorces involving spousal support involve extensive litigation. While these payments may not be common, they can impact your finances in a big way for a long time if they are applicable in your divorce. Therefore, it is best to speak with a Los Angeles spousal support attorney about your options.
There are Few Clear Guidelines for Determining Payments
Unlike child support, where the court typically makes a straightforward payment calculation based on a parent’s income and the number of children, there are no definite calculations that courts use to determine spousal support in California. In determining whether to order alimony payments, a Los Angeles family law judge will consider the following factors:
- Length of marriage
- The standard of living needs of each partner
- The partners’ relative contributions to household income
- Impacts on future career prospects, such as staying home to raise children
- Whether one spouse supported education or business development that led to the other spouse’s income
- The age of partners
- The amounts of debts, assets, and property
There are many factors at play, and a court’s decision in any given case can often seem subjective. It is important to have legal support in place to ensure that your rights are adequately defended.
Length of Payments Depends on the Length of the Marriage
If the court awards spousal support in your case, the length of the payments that you will need to make is closely tied to the duration of your marriage. For marriages lasting fewer than ten years, California law states that a “reasonable amount of time” for spousal support payments is half the length of the marriage. For marriages over ten years, there is no defined length of payments. Often, the burden of proof rests upon the paying party to prove that payments are no longer needed or possible.
Get Legal Help
Alimony is one of the most complex areas of divorce and family law. Whether you are concerned about paying or receiving support, you need an experienced advocate at your side to ensure that your legal rights are protected. At Berenji & Associates, we help individuals throughout Los Angeles obtain positive and fair outcomes in divorce cases involving spousal support. Contact us today to schedule a meeting with an experienced divorce lawyer.
Berenji & Associates
550 S. Hill Street STE 1467
Los Angeles, CA 90013