California Spousal Support FAQs


1.    Does alimony mean the same thing as spousal support?

Yes. The two terms can be used interchangeably and refer to the same thing. However, California law and the courts use the term spousal support. The term alimony is more commonly used in popular culture.

2.    What is the difference between temporary spousal support and permanent spousal support?

A “temporary spousal support” order is granted on a temporary basis, generally occurring during the divorce and legal separation judgment and before a final judgment has been entered. Temporary support is awarded to help the economically disadvantaged spouse maintain the marital standard of living while the divorce proceeding is pending. A “permanent spousal support” order is the financial assistance the supporting spouse pays the supported party after the judgment of dissolution or legal separation is entered and the issue of spousal support has been resolved.

3.    Does the fact that I have been married for over 10 years have any significant effect on spousal support?

Yes. The duration of a spousal support order generally depends on the length of the marriage. For marriages that have lasted for less than 10 years, the court will generally order spousal support for a period equal to half the length of the marriage. For example, if you have been married for 6 years, the court generally orders that spousal support by paid by the supporting party for 3 years.  However, for marriages that are more than 10 years in length, the court may not set a date for the termination of spousal support. Instead, the court may order the parties to return to court in the future to determine whether the spousal support obligation should continue or be modified.  California law does not condone long-drawn-out spousal support obligations; thus, the court provides that the supported spouse is expected to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time – even for marriages that have lasted for more than 10 years.

4.    What does the court consider when deciding on a temporary spousal support order?

The court normally considers each party’s respective needs and ability to pay when determining the amount of temporary spousal support. When setting the amount of temporary spousal support, the courts in all counties use the same computer program that determines the amount of child support. However, the court does have broad discretion to reduce or increase the amount of temporary spousal support calculated by the program.

5.    If I get an annulment, can I still request spousal support?

No. An annulment is granted in situations where the state recognizes that a marriage was not valid and never legally existed. Therefore, as the marriage was never valid, the court will not award spousal support.

6.  Will the court award spousal support if my spouse and I were married for 20 years?

In California, a marriage that lasts for more than 10 years is considered a long term marriage.  Therefore, in a situation the marriage lasted for 20 years, it is likely that the court will make a spousal support order.  The court will look at the 14 factors of Family Code section 4320 when determining whether to award spousal support.  After taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the marriage, the court may make a permanent spousal support order which will include the amount of support to be paid and the duration of support payments.

7.  Can the court order my spouse to pay me spousal support while my spouse continues to pay all my expenses and our divorce is being finalized?

While your divorce is being finalized you may request from the court that it award you temporary spousal support.  In determining spousal support the court will look to see whether the party asking for support has a need for support and whether the paying spouse has the ability to pay. If your spouse is already paying all of your expense, the court may determine that temporary support is not necessary.  However, the denial of temporary spousal support does not limit or prevent the court from ordering permanent spousal support in the final judgment.

8.  Can I be awarded spousal support even if my spouse and I were married for less than two (2) years?

Yes, the court may award you temporary spousal support.  The court will consider your monthly income and expenses and your spouse’s income and expenses. The court will also consider the standard of living during your marriage. The court will use this information by inputting your and your spouse’s respective income in a court approved computer program, which will calculate temporary spousal support.  It also important to note that the court can deviate from the amount determined by the program and a temporary spousal support amount that is higher or lower.

9.  Can my employer fire me because of a spousal support wage garnishment?

No.  It is illegal for any employer to fire an employee because of a wage garnishment.  Also, you employer cannot discriminate an employee on the basis of a wage garnishment. If your employer is threatening to fire you or is discriminating against you because of the spousal support wage garnishment it is important that you take to your lawyer.

Los Angeles Spousal Support Attorney

Whether the court will award spousal support and the amount of the spousal support will depend in great part on the legal arguments that are presented to the judge by your experienced Los Angeles spousal support attorney. To help you negotiate or litigate for the best possible terms, you need the knowledge and expertise of a skilled Wallin & Klarich spousal support attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully representing clients facing California spousal support matters for over 30 years. With offices located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego Victorville, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and Ventura , there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live. Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.

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