Here at Hills Law Group, we have found that one of the most common areas where stress sneaks in during a divorce is where money comes into play. And one of the biggest ways money comes into play besides child support is alimony. 

Alimony, or “spousal support” as it’s officially called in California, can be hard to break down, understand and then calculate. This blog will go into detail on how to better understand alimony in California and prepare you for those conversations during your divorce. 

The Definition of Alimony 

It’s important to know that alimony is not a mandatory thing. A court can deny it altogether. Some couples will go about calculating alimony in different ways, whether that be through the legal system, mediation or self-resolution. 

By definition, alimony is a monthly payment made by the wealthier party in the case of separation or divorce. Alimony is officially referred to as “spousal support” in the state of California. It can also be referred to as “partner support” in domestic partnerships. 

The goal is to support the financially burdened spouse and allow them to continue to live the way they were when they were married. 

Types of Alimony 

There are multiple types of alimony that can be decided in the state of California:

  • Temporary alimony: paid by one spouse during a separation and when the divorce is not finalized. The payments may or may not continue after the finalized divorce. 
  • Permanent alimony: monthly payments indefinitely or until the spouse receiving payments dies or remarries. 
  • Rehabilitative alimony: payments made until the spouse receiving payments has become self-supporting. 
  • Reimbursement alimony: payments made to reimburse one spouse for the expenses of the other, such as tuition or training.
  • Lump-sum alimony: a one-time payment made to the other spouse that includes all money that will ever be given.

Traditionally, payments of alimony were considered tax-deductible in California, but as of January 2019, they no longer are. If the paying party cannot afford to pay spousal support, they still are required to make the payments until a court says they can stop. 

Deciding Alimony 

Spousal support can only be asked for if there is a court case. The judge will take into consideration many factors when deciding on alimony, such as how much income each party makes, the age and health of each party, and the expenses of each spouse. 

Either spouse can come forward at a later time and ask for the original set amount to be changed. A spouse also can go to the judge to make them enforce spousal support as the paying party may not feel as though they should be making payments. 

If a child support law firm is helping you enforce the collection of child support, they can also help you enforce the collection of spousal support. 

Payment and Duration of Alimony

As we’ve said, the list of factors that go into deciding the specific amount of alimony someone gets is long. There are currently guidelines to calculate temporary alimony but nothing beyond that. 

Spouses can receive alimony for a reasonable period of time, which can be considered half the length of the partnership or marriage if it’s under 10 years. However, anything beyond that and things get complicated. 

Judges can use their discretion to decide how much is being paid and how long those payments go on for. 

Understand the Whole Situation 

Every divorce is different—just like every settlement of alimony will be different. It can be consuming and stressful like almost anything is when money gets involved. If you need help wading through the waters of your divorce or want to explore divorce mediation, reach out to us on our website. With so much experience under our belt in the state of California, you can rest assured that our divorce lawyers at Orange County law firm have your back.