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In a divorce in which one spouse earns less than the other, the higher-earning spouse may be ordered by the courts to pay the lesser-earning spouse alimony. Alimony or spousal support is intended to help the lesser-earning spouse support themselves in the months and years following the divorce.
Determining spousal support payments
There are two types of spousal support available in California: temporary and long-term.
Spousal support will be granted based on the length of the marriage and how long it would take the lesser-earning spouse to be able to support themselves without their ex’s contributions.
If your marriage lasted less than 10 years, requiring alimony payments to last for half of the time the marriage lasted is considered reasonable. However, for marriages that lasted longer than 10 years, there is no reasonable standard in place. The judge will order that the payments last as long as they feel is necessary.
What can stop spousal support payments?
Even if spousal support has been awarded on a long-term basis, the court may order the stoppage of the payments for several reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- The lesser-earning spouse remarries.
- The higher-earning spouse or lesser-earning spouse passes away.
- The parties agree to end the payments.
It is unlikely that the court will grant spousal support payments that last forever. Generally, the lesser-earning spouse will be given time to re-enter the workforce, acquire additional job training, go back to school, and/or learn new skills to help them find sufficient work.
If you are concerned about spousal support in your divorce, a family law attorney can help you navigate this issue and other issues that may arise in your divorce.