When one spouse is unable to financially self-support after divorce, California may order the other spouse to pay spousal support. Sometimes called alimony, spousal support is usually a temporary order that helps the lower-earning partner pursue education or job training.
If you are facing a divorce, learn more about how spousal support works in California.
Factors in spousal support calculation
For marriages that end before the 10-year mark, the judge typically awards support lasting half the length of the marriage. Extended spousal support is rare except when the marriage lasted longer than 10 years. This type of support does not have a court-ordered end date. Instead, it ends when either party dies, or when the person receiving support enters a new domestic partnership or marriage.
When the couple cannot agree on alimony payments, the court will make a fair determination. Considerations include:
- The ability of each spouse to earn an independent living
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage, including monetary contributions as well as nonmonetary contributions like child care
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse in the marriage
- The couple’s lifestyle during the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health status
- Each spouse’s current earnings and projected future earnings
In addition to these state guidelines, California counties have their own guidelines for temporary support. This type of alimony ends when the divorce becomes final.
How to request support
The spouse asking for support must file Form FL-300 along with your divorce paperwork. You can use this form for both temporary and permanent alimony requests. Both spouses must provide full financial disclosure, which the judge will use to make a decision about spousal support, property division and child support if applicable.
Under current federal tax law, spousal support does not constitute income for the purposes of income taxes. Payments are not deductible for the person paying alimony. Under California tax law, however, the person paying spousal support can deduct these payments from state income tax. The person receiving spousal support must declare these funds as state income.