Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support in a California Divorce

California Spousal Support FAQs
Ordering Spousal Support in California
California Spousal Support Statutes

Alimony in California is authorized in limited situations and is not the broad remedy that it is in other states. Alimony in California is "rehabilitative" and is intended to be a short-term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet. Alimony is awarded to enable the other spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would enable the spouse to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment. Upon divorce, alimony can be used to compensate for this inequity.

A second reason for awarding alimony is the situation which involves victims of family abuse and where the spouse was convicted of the family violence within the filing of the divorce.

In most cases the award of benefits is limited to three years. Exceptions exist for persons suffering from incapacitating physical or mental disabilities. The amount awarded is limited to the lesser of twenty (20%) percent of the paying spouse's average income, or $2500 -- whichever is less.

The court may award maintenance for a spouse only if:

(1)  the spouse from whom maintenance is requested has been convicted of family violence within 2 years before the suit for dissolution; or
(2)  the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer and the spouse seeking maintenance
   (a)  lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable minimum needs; or
   (b)  is unable to support him or her self through employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
   (c)  is the custodian of a child which requires substantial care and supervision because of a physical or mental disability which makes it necessary that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or
   (d)  clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs.


If the court determines that a spouse is eligible for maintenance, the following factors are then considered in the award:

(1)  the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including both separate and community property and liabilities;
(2)  the spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently;
(3)  the education and employment skills of the spouses;
(4)  the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment;
(5)  the availability and feasibility of that training;
(6)  the duration of the marriage;
(7)  the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(8)  the ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments;
(9)  excessive or abnormal expenditures, concealment or destruction of any property by either spouse;
(10)  the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property;
(11)  the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(12)  the contribution of either spouse as homemaker;
(13)  any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(14)  the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to seek employment;
(15)  the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation; and
(16)  property brought to the marriage by either spouse.

[California Codes Annotated; Family Code, Section 4320-4325].

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