Header Logo Image

Which Party Has To Pay Spousal Support Or Alimony In A Divorce Case?


In most cases, the party who earns more income will have to pay spousal support or alimony.

Is Spousal Support Always Going To Be Awarded In A Divorce?

Spousal support is not always awarded in divorce cases. For example, if the parties’ incomes are within $1000, then there will be no guideline spousal support which is awarded pendente lite (during litigation). If the party who would receive spousal support perpetrated domestic violence against the spouse who would owe them spousal support, then the order for spousal support may be cancelled due to the domestic violence. If the proposed supported party has been living independently without any special reason, then the court may question the need for support.

Is There A Stipulation On The Number Of Years The Parties Have To Be Married For Spousal Support To Be Awarded?

There is no stipulation on the number of years that parties would have to have been married in order for spousal support to be awarded. For short-term marriages, spousal support will generally be paid for half of the length of the marriage, so some spousal support orders will last for only for months. For marriages that lasted 10 years or more, there is a presumption that spousal support will need to last longer than the life of the marriage, and in some cases it will last forever.

When Does Spousal Support Generally Begin? Can I Get It During Separation?

Spousal support can begin as soon as the parties have separated, which means that a party who has not filed for a legal separation but is living apart from their spouse may file a petition for spousal support. This means that spousal support can begin even if there has been no divorce or legal separation.

How Is The Amount Of Spousal Support Determined?

Prior to an entry of final judgment, spousal support in California is based on a calculation and the county in which the party lives. I practice primarily in the Sacramento area and surrounding counties, all of which use the Santa Clara County support calculations. These calculations are based on a percentage of both spouses’ incomes and a balancing factor similar to the one used in determinations for child support. Alternatively, the amount of child support could be agreed to by the parties.

In Family Code Section 4320, there are several factors that take into account the ability of the supported party to support themselves by obtaining an education, a career, or licensing. Other factors include the ability of the supporting party to pay the supported party, the needs of the parties based on the standard of living established during the marriage, the ability of the person getting support to engage in gainful employment, the health and age of the parties, and the balance of the hardship to the parties. Each case is considered individually, and ultimately a case-specific determination will be made by a judge at trial.

For more information on Spousal Support In A California Divorce Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (916) 915-8866 today.

California Probate Lawyer Peter Cianchetta

Call To Get Help Now
(916) 915-8866

Related Articles