Spousal support – a.k.a. “alimony” – is traditionally paid to wives after a divorce to give them ongoing financial support.  This practice is something that was more commonplace in the past when families primarily had one spouse who worked and one who stayed home to care for the household or worked as a stay-at-home mom.  In many couples with two sources of income and high levels of education for both spouses, alimony is becoming less prevalent.  Our Ventura alimony lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain how a wife can get alimony in California and what factors the court looks at when making alimony decisions.

When is Alimony Granted in California?

California courts typically grant alimony only in cases where they can determine that alimony is necessary.  The goal of alimony is to give a spouse ongoing financial support after the marriage.  If a spouse has to choose either staying in a bad marriage where she has financial support and comfort or getting a divorce and losing that comfort, most people would choose to stay married.  Alimony allows many people to get divorced and end abusive or unhappy marriages by giving them a guarantee of ongoing support afterward.  But how do you know if you qualify for alimony?

Courts typically grant alimony to spouses who can demonstrate they need it.  Alimony is typically granted in the following situations, but it can be granted in other cases as well:

  • If you have a disability or health concern that makes it hard to support yourself, courts will typically order your spouse to support you after a divorce.
  • If your marriage was very long and you are accustomed to being supported, the court will typically grant you alimony.
  • If you stayed at home to care for the house or care for shared children, courts are more willing to give you alimony.
  • If you do not have marketable job skills, education, or job training because you were supported throughout the marriage, it would be difficult for you to support yourself and courts might grant alimony.

Whether you fit into one of these categories or not, the court still needs to make a full assessment of your alimony claim.  Courts have a variety of alimony factors listed under California Family Code § 4320 that they are supposed to use in deciding whether to grant alimony.  These include other factors, such as:

  • Each spouse’s income
  • Each spouse’s debts and assets
  • Each spouse’s needs
  • The standard of living the couple was accustomed to
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Each spouse’s health
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the other’s education or professional license

Types of Alimony in California

If you do think you need alimony, there are three general “types” of alimony in California that you may qualify for.  Different people use different definitions of the various “types” of alimony, but these three types cover some of the general issues you might face and the typical alimony guidelines and awards to fix them:

Alimony Pendente Lite

You may be entitled to alimony while the divorce case is pending.  This would cover your support needs during the period between filing and when the divorce is finalized.  Since there is a 6-month waiting period for divorce in California, you may need to get support while you are still legally married and still share finances, especially if your husband controls bank accounts or cuts you off from financial control.  This alimony typically stops when the divorce is finalized, and you will need to have separate court orders for alimony after divorce.

Temporary Alimony

Alimony can be granted after the divorce for a set amount of time.  This can be called “rehabilitative alimony” or “reimbursement alimony” in many situations.  Rehabilitative alimony may be used to help you get back on your feet after a divorce, supporting you while you attend school or seek job retraining.

Reimbursement alimony may be used to pay you back for serious expenses during the marriage.  For instance, if you worked to support your husband through college, medical school, law school, or other education and licensing, your contributions to the family’s financial status should be recognized.  Reimbursement alimony can help support you to pay you back for that support, at least in part.

Temporary alimony is the most common type of alimony awarded after a divorce.  Courts typically do not see a need for ongoing payments and may make alimony last for a set time after the divorce.

Permanent Alimony

If you have a serious need for ongoing alimony payments, courts may grant you permanent alimony.  In cases where the wife needs time to get a job and start supporting herself, courts may not see a need to order ongoing payments.  However, when the wife has serious health concerns or needs to care for her children, she may need permanent alimony to pay for her support.  Permanent alimony is rarer than temporary alimony, but it is unquestionably necessary in some cases.

Call Our Ventura Alimony Lawyers for Help Seeking Alimony in California

If you are considering getting divorced but you are concerned about how you will be able to support yourself during and after the divorce, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth.  Our Ventura family lawyers may be able to help you understand your options for seeking alimony and how you can get alimony payments after your divorce.  Our attorneys will explain your options to you and help you understand whether you might qualify for temporary alimony or permanent alimony and how much your alimony payments might be.  For a free legal consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.