No simple formula for spousal support

In California, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to support the family financially while the other stays home to support the family emotionally. While this may be an effective way to manage a household in a marriage, it could make it challenging for the stay-at-home spouse to move forward with his or her life after divorce. Spousal support might be an option to give these spouses time to further their education or gain job skills that could help them become self-sufficient.

Family courts look at several factors as they determine whether one spouse might be entitled to spousal support. Because the assets that each spouse owns plays a major role in determining support, this is one of the last things a court will decide in a divorce case. Some of the other factors a court might consider include the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay, the length of time the couple was married and the health of both spouses. While these court orders could be revisited if either spouse’s circumstances change significantly, couples may opt for non-modifiable spousal support to avoid the time and money it would cost to go back to court.

While spousal support could be instrumental in helping a newly divorced person get on their feet, there is no guarantee that they will receive any payments. A court may order the paying spouse to purchase life or disability insurance to ensure that the lower-earning spouse has sufficient income in the event of their former spouse’s early death or a disability that prevents them from working.

Like other aspects of divorce, spousal support is a complex matter. Whether a spouse thinks they could be entitled to support or suspects they may have to pay alimony, an attorney with experience in spousal support cases may help guide them through the process.