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The basics of spousal support in California

Spousal support is an issue that comes up in many divorces in California and may be especially important in a high-value divorce. Spousal support refers to circumstances when one spouse is required to pay another spouse following a divorce. Partner support for domestic partners who are divorcing may also be available in California. Spousal support or partner support may be agreed upon by the divorcing couple or ordered by the court.

When one spouse requests spousal support, it can be awarded on a temporary basis but once the divorce is final, the spousal support award becomes permanent. Spousal support, however, may be awarded for different lengths of time and the duration may vary based on the couple's circumstances. The court considers several factors when determining spousal support.

Factors the court considers when determining spousal support includes the length of the marriage or domestic partnership; the standard of living of the spouses or partners during the marriage and the needs of the spouses or partners based on that; what the paying spouse or partner can afford to pay; the ability of both spouses to work and earn a living and if there are children to care for which may impact that consideration; the age and health of the spouses or partners; whether one spouse or partner contributed to the education or career of the other; whether a spouse or partner's career was impacted by caring for children; the debts and property of the couple; tax implications of the spousal or partner support; and other factors as well.

Spousal or partner support can sometimes be a contentious issue during divorce which is why it helps to understand the factors courts consider when awarding it and the considerations the court will use to evaluate those factors such as the amount of time and expense it may take for the recipient spouse to develop marketable skills to become self supporting. Understanding the circumstances in which spousal support may be awarded can help divorcing spouses better negotiate their divorce and prepare for life following it.

Source: California Courts, "Spousal/Partner Support," Accessed June 29, 2017

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