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Alimony: What Do I Need To Know Before Divorce?

Alimony: What Do I Need To Know Before Divorce?

If you’re facing a divorce in California, you may be wondering how alimony—also known as spousal support—will affect you. Whether you are expecting payments or must pay alimony to your spouse, it’s essential to understand what spousal support is, how it’s calculated, and who pays.

Read on as our team of California divorce law practitioners at Anthoor Law Group provides insights on questions you may have about alimony to help clarify what spousal support is and eliminate misconceptions about this legal concept and process.

Spousal Support Explained by an Alimony Lawyer

Alimony is usually called spousal support in California, but both terms mean the same thing. Spousal support involves court-ordered or agreed-upon financial payments that one spouse makes to the other. Depending on the specific circumstances, payments may last forever, a few years, or just through the divorce process.

A judge may also decide neither spouse will get spousal support. In a final ruling, neither of the divorcing partners may return to court later to request spousal support.

Misconceptions About Alimony

Many people harbor misconceptions about alimony that we would like to clear up.

Firstly, spousal support is not the same thing as child support. Child support is when one parent, generally the one with the higher income, pays a monthly amount to the divorced parent who has primary child custody to help provide financially for the child.

A judge may award alimony independently of whether or not the couple has any minor children.

Couples sometimes mistakenly believe the purpose of alimony is to create equal financial means for both parties. In truth, spousal support ensures that both individuals can support themselves financially.

Types of Spousal Support in California

Many states, including California, have three types of spousal support:

  1. Temporary Support: The court may order one spouse to pay temporary support payments during the divorce process. If these payments stop once the divorce is final, this alimony is considered temporary. The court may require them to pay temporary spousal support if their divorcing spouse cannot support themselves throughout the divorce process.
  2. Rehabilitative Support: The court might order rehabilitative alimony payments, which one spouse would make for a period following the divorce to help their former spouse who is struggling to get back on their feet financially after the divorce. Once the ex-spouse can support themselves, the payments stop. A judge determines the exact terms of rehabilitative support, or the couples do so in a formal agreement in uncontested divorces.
  3. Permanent Support: The third type of spousal support requires the permanent payment of alimony. These payments only cease if the couple changes the terms of the divorce via a legal proceeding or if the receiving spouse states they no longer need it.

If you’re paying alimony or believe you deserve spousal support, seek legal advice from divorce attorneys.

Factors in Calculating Alimony

A judge will consider several factors in determining whether spousal support is appropriate for your case and, if it is, how much the payments should be. Considerations may include:

  • The financial situation of each party, including income, assets, and debts
  • The lifestyle of the couple while they were still married and each party’s ability to maintain that standard of living
  • The reduced earning capacity of a spouse who forewent education or employment for many years to manage children or other family matters
  • Sacrifices made by one spouse to support the other’s education or employment goals
  • What each spouse will get in marital property assets
  • How long the couple was married
  • The age and health of both parties
  • Domestic violence situations
  • Other relevant factors

A judge only determines alimony payments when the couple cannot agree, so settling on spousal support terms outside of court is possible during the divorce process. Many couples do this through the mediation process.

Maintenance Payments

Rather than periodic alimony payments, a judge may decide to require one sizable payment made from one spouse or the other. This large payment, often called “maintenance,” serves much the same purpose as alimony. This payment does not count toward the receiving spouse’s assets.

Ending Spousal Support

Periodic alimony payments end if the supported spouse remarries to someone else or at the death of one of the parties. One or both parties can also request a modification in spousal support if either party’s financial situation changes significantly after the divorce proceedings.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney for Questions about Spousal Support

At Anthoor Law Group, we are a family law practice in Fremont, CA. Contact one of our divorce lawyers if you have questions about alimony or other aspects of divorce law. We can advise or represent you in your divorce. We’ll do whatever it takes to help you.

You might decide to work with an Anthoor Law Group divorce lawyer if:

  • You are getting a divorce
  • You are paying alimony, but circumstances have changed
  • You are owed alimony that is not being paid
  • You need legal advice on another family law matter

If you are searching for a divorce lawyer, call one of our Anthoor Law Group alimony attorneys today at (510) 794-2887 in Fremont, California, to set up an initial consultation.

Copyright© 2022. Anthoor Law Group, A Professional Corporation. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Anthoor Law Group, A Professional Corporation
39210 State Street, Suite 100
(510) 794-2887

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