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How California Spousal Support Laws Work

Divorce is an event in life that produces waves of new changes, most notably within a person's finances. Many California marriages and domestic partnerships have an imbalance of earnings and work history between couples. After divorce is decided, one spouse or partner is often at a crippling disadvantage in this area.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to seek financial support during and after divorce. Family courts have the power to approve and enforce the request of monthly spousal support (a.k.a alimony) to the other person after a court case is open (i.e. divorce, legal separation, etc.). Spousal support in California also applies to open cases of domestic violence where a restraining order is on file.

Reviewing earning potential

The court looks at various factors to help determine eligibility and alimony amounts. But in general, a judge will analyze the overall earning potential of the spouse requesting support. For example, if a woman was a stay-at-home mom during the extent of her marriage, she may lack current knowledge and skills necessary to gain substantial income after separating from her spouse.

However, the judge may determine she is capable of working tasks that don't require much skill and experience. In this case, a judge might require her to work a part-time job at an entry-level position to offset a higher alimony amount.

Duration of marriage

A judge will enforce spousal support for what he or she decides is an appropriate length of time. However, each marriage is different and the role of the judge is to consider these differences and rule in a fair manner based on the details of each situation. Duration is taken into consideration and marriages lasting over 10 years are likely not going to have a set end-date.

Going through the divorce and separation process may be difficult, but there is support for those who fear they will be unable to stand on firm financial ground afterwards.

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