How is Alimony Calculated in California?

The terms “alimony,” “spousal support,” and “spousal maintenance” each refer to the same thing: court-ordered payments issued from one spouse to the other pending or following a divorce in California. The spouse who makes payments is referred to as the “supporting party,” “obligor,” or “payor.” The spouse who receives payment is called the “supported party,” “obligee,” or “recipient.” Either husband or wife may be ordered to pay or entitled to receive alimony. Alimony is also available in LGBT and same-sex divorces, and in dissolutions of domestic partnerships, in which payments are called “partner support.”

Whether you are the person requesting alimony or partner support, or the spouse or partner providing support, it is important to understand how alimony payments are calculated in California, which will help you to prepare more effectively for the financial impacts of ending your marriage or partnership. This short informational guide will teach you about:

  • The types of alimony that are available in California.
  • How long alimony lasts in California.
  • How alimony payments are calculated in California.

If you reside in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County and need assistance requesting, collecting, increasing, decreasing, or terminating alimony in California, contact The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 for a free legal consultation with our experienced family law attorneys today.

Types of Alimony in California

There are two kinds of alimony, or partner support, in California:

  1. Temporary Alimony – Temporary alimony is also called “alimony pendente lite” (APL). Temporary alimony is alimony that is awarded while the divorce is still is in progress. It is designed to help the recipient support themselves and pay for legal fees while the case proceeds. It may take anywhere from several months to several years to finalize a divorce, depending on whether issues such as child custody and property division are contested (in dispute).
  2. Permanent Alimony – The term “permanent alimony” is misleading. Contrary to its name, permanent alimony is usually not permanent, though exceptions occasionally arise. Unlike APL, which is paid during divorce proceedings, permanent alimony is not paid until after the divorce.

Whether you need assistance with temporary alimony because you are filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, or you have recently gotten a divorce and now need help with a matter involving permanent alimony, the Ventura alimony lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC can provide clear guidance and skilled representation to help you resolve the issue. Contact our family law lawyers as soon as possible for a free alimony consultation.

How Are Alimony Payments Determined in California?

Alimony payments are meant to provide reasonable financial support to the recipient, with the expectation that such recipient will obtain the training, education, professional certifications, or other skills and resources to become self-sufficient once an appropriate period of time has elapsed. In cases where the recipient is incapable of self-sufficiency due to disability, severe illness, advanced age, or other factors, alimony payments may continue beyond the time limits typically imposed. Otherwise, for marriages lasting less than 10 years, the duration of permanent alimony is generally half the length of the marriage – for instance, four years of alimony for an eight-year marriage.

In addition to determining the appropriate duration of alimony payments, the court must also determine an appropriate amount of alimony, taking into consideration the points raised and evidence presented by both parties. This often leads to emotionally charged disputes, underscoring the importance of aggressive legal representation.

California’s courts reference numerous and specific criteria, which are located at Cal. Family Code § 4320, to calculate how much alimony should be awarded. California alimony guidelines instruct family courts to consider:

  • Whether and to what extent each party can earn enough “to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.”
  • The financial needs of the recipient.
  • The financial ability of the payor.
  • Each party’s job skills, including the market for those skills.
  • How much time it will take for the recipient to become self-sufficient (e.g. earning a degree, undergoing training).
  • Whether and to what extent the recipient financially supported the payor at a time when the payor was attending college, earning licenses and permits, and so forth.
  • Each party’s age and health.
  • Whether either party was ever convicted of crimes involving domestic violence or spousal abuse, such as assault or stalking.
  • How each party’s tax liability will be impacted.

These and related factors will help the court determine how much alimony you should be ordered to pay, or how much alimony you should be awarded, depending on whether you are the obligee or obligor. It may be possible to increase or decrease alimony or partner support should either spouse or partner experience a change in his or her financial circumstances, such as the loss of a job or a costly medical procedure. Moreover, the death or remarriage of either party will necessitate termination of alimony.

California Alimony Lawyers Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties

It is common for alimony requests to cause financial disputes in California divorce proceedings. The spouse or partner paying alimony may feel that the amount is burdensome or unfair, while the spouse or partner requesting alimony may feel that the amount is inadequate or unrealistic. Legal issues can also arise if the obligor makes delinquent payments, incomplete payments, or simply refuses to pay. For assistance with any of these legal matters, or with other matters pertaining to divorce, child support, child custody, or property division, contact The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 today.

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