Spousal Support / Alimony
In addition to child support, a California court may order that one spouse pay support to the other, both during the dissolution proceeding in order to maintain the status quo, and after the final judgment of dissolution has been entered. The duration of court ordered spousal support will depend upon the length of the marriage. Generally, if the parties have been married for less than ten (10) years, support will be ordered for one-half (½) the length of the marriage. If the parties have been married for more than ten (10) years, the court does not have jurisdiction to terminate support and may order permanent support, this is very fact dependent. Spousal support is governed by Family Code Section 4320. Thus, when ordering permanent support, a judge will look at the factors set forth in that section. These include, the standard of living during marriage, the income of both parties, the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, their health, their earning capacity, education, job skills, their assets and liabilities, and the ability of the non-earner spouse to obtain the skills necessary to become self-sufficient. As in situations involving child support, the calculation of temporary spousal support is determined by the DissoMaster, which is a computer program used by attorneys to calculate support payments based on California guidelines. However, unlike child support, the parties may agree amongst themselves to waive spousal support and the Court cannot use a computer calculation in permanent spousal support. The Internal Revenue Code provides that spousal support payments are taxable as ordinary income of the payee spouse, and are deductible by the payor spouse. In order to take advantage of the tax benefits, it is important for the parties to have enforceable court orders in place prior to January 21, 2019.