Will the Judge Order Spousal Support in My Divorce?

If you are getting a divorce, you may be wondering, "Will my case involve spousal support?" It depends. When a couple divorces, a judge may order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. It is at the discretion of the judge. Spousal support is not automatic in a California divorce and judges award spousal support on a "case by case" basis.

If you are seeking an annulment, a legal separation, a domestic violence restraining order, or a divorce, you can ask for spousal support while your case is pending. This is known as a "temporary spousal support order," but spousal support can also be awarded once the legal separation or divorce is finalized; this is called "permanent spousal support."

Factors Considered by the Judge

The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the lower-earning spouse does not become impoverished because of the divorce. When a judge is considering to award spousal support, he or she will consider the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and health of both spouses;
  • The couple's debts and property;
  • Any history of domestic violence;
  • If one spouse helped the other pursue an education, career, or professional license;
  • What each spouse needs based on the standard of living established in the marriage;
  • Each spouse's earnings and earning capacity;
  • Whether being employed would make it too hard to care for the children;
  • If one spouse's career was affected by unemployment while caring for the couple's home or children; and
  • The tax implications of paying spousal support.

If a judge decides that one party can afford to pay spousal support and it is necessary, then the spousal support order can become a part of the legal separation or final divorce judgment.

How long does spousal support last? Usually, the duration of spousal support is closely related to the length of the marriage. While a "reasonable period of time" may be one-half the length of the marriage, the judge has the discretion to make a different decision based on the circumstances of the case.

For a marriage that lasts 10 or more years, the judge may not set an end date to the spousal support. However, spousal support ends upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse, unless the divorce agreement says otherwise.

To learn more about spousal support, contact Negley Law, APC to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Ventura divorce attorney!