Spousal support, also known as alimony, refers to the payments made from one spouse to another after a divorce. The point of spousal support is to maintain the standard of living that the lesser-earning spouse enjoyed during the marriage. For example, if one spouse stayed at home with the kids and the other spouse worked, the working spouse would likely have to pay support to the homemaker spouse who wouldn’t immediately have his or her own means of support post-divorce.
Here are a few frequently asked questions pertaining to spousal support:
Q: Does every divorce involve spousal support?
A: No. California law does not require that spousal support be paid in every divorce. It all depends on the former couple’s financial situation.
Q: What is the 10-year rule?
A: Under California law, a marriage that lasts at least 10 years is considered a marriage of long duration. In marriages that last less than 10 years, spousal support is typically paid no longer than half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married for six years then you might have to pay alimony for three years. The “marriage of long duration” designation affects how long you will have to pay spousal support. In that case there is no set date when the alimony payments end. Rather, there is a “termination” date that can be extended as long as the receiving spouse applies for an extension by that date. Courts will not often predict the future and leave the termination date open in long marriages; however, this is a subject for negotiation.
Q: If I’m paying spousal support but am now making more or less money than before, will the amount of my payments change?
A: If you have been fired or if your income has been reduced, you might be eligible for a temporary abatement of support payments. This abatement may become permanent if you are unable to find a job returning you to your previous income level. However, you do not have to pay more support if you get a raise. You also are not required to work beyond retirement age (which is age 65) to support your former spouse. All this requires court determination or agreement.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
The Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, office of Charles D. Stark can help you receive spousal support following a divorce or help negotiate an end to the payments you have to make (or help negotiate an increase or decrease in payment amounts). Contact us today for a free consultation. We will help you through every step of the divorce process.