What Does a Family Law Judge Consider When It Comes to Spousal Support?

What Does a Family Law Judge Consider When It Comes to Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is not a required part of divorce proceedings in California. In fact, there are several considerations that go into determining whether one spouse deserves spousal support and if so, how much and for what duration. Generally, the parties’ ability to provide for themselves following the divorce is considered, but other factors also come into play when making a determination regarding alimony payments.

Depending on each party’s circumstances regarding their ability to maintain a standard of living established during the marriage and their needs and ability to pay following the divorce, alimony may or may not be rewarded. The decision should be based on the standard of living that was established during the marriage and the court will consider this when determining the amount and duration of the order.

Some of the factors that are considered by the court when considering a spousal support order include the ability to maintain the marital standard of living based on earning capabilities, contributions the supported spouse made towards the supporting spouse’s education or training, the ability of the supporting spouse to pay the alimony (considering earning capacity, earned or unearned income, assets, etc.) and the needs of each party based on the standard of living that was established in marriage.

The parties’ assets and debts are considered, as well as the duration of their marriage. If a spouse has been out of the job market because of the marriage for a long period, they may have a stronger case for support. Shorter marriages may present weaker cases for need and therefore alimony. The ability of the supported spouse to find work and the impact that may have on the children is also considered.

Some other factors considered include whether there is a history of domestic violence, the age and health of both parties, tax consequences, relative hardships and the goal of self-support, meaning the supported party should aim to be self-supporting within a certain period. There may be other factors that are considered as well when determining whether alimony payments will be made as well as their length and amount.