Who Gets Awarded “Alimony”?

*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.

Rodriguez Law Group, Inc. February 22, 2022

Alimony is synonymous with spousal support; it is a recurring payment made by one divorcing spouse to the other divorcé. This usually begins after the divorce has been fully finalized, which in California takes six months at minimum . Spousal support is a more gender-neutral term than alimony which does have a connotation of being awarded to the woman in a hetero- relationship. However, the reality is that either spouse can request it from the other. However, the critical rule in any spousal support case is that the requesting spouse needs the support, and the other can provide it. If you can't pass this basic test, the court won't award any support. Consequently, the criteria of who is eligible to be awarded spousal support is based on finances.

For temporary support requests, the court will gather financial information from each spouse, including information about income, expenses, assets, and debts and then determine an amount using a temporary support calculator. The forms you might see related to this in a divorce case are FL- 150 and FL- 142, to name a couple.

For the other types of spousal support offered in California, including permanent and rehabilitative, the court will determine each spouse's income and evaluate the a variety of factors to determine a final amount for spousal support. Many of these factors are financial but some other things are taken into consideration as well.

The factors the courts evaluate to determine who is the recipient of spousal support are as follows:

  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse, and

  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against either party or the children

  • the balance of hardships to each party

  • each spouse's earning capacity

  • the extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other's educational degree or professional license during the marriage

  • the paying spouse's ability to pay spousal support, considering earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living

  • each spouse's needs, based on the marital standard of living

  • each spouse's debts and assets, including separate property

  • the length of the marriage

  • the supported spouse's ability to become employed without interfering with the care of the parties' minor children

  • each party's age and health

  • tax consequences to each party

  • the goal that the recipient spouse will be self-supporting within a reasonable period

It is also at the discretion of the court if they would like to consider any other factors in their decision making on who and how much when awarding spousal support.

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