If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, you or your spouse may end up having to pay spousal support, or alimony, to the other party. Alimony is essentially money paid from a higher-earning spouse to a lower-earning spouse following the dissolution of a marriage.
A spousal monetary support arrangement in California depends on either the agreement that you two reach or the divorce court's decision. Understanding how alimony works is critical for obtaining your desired outcome in a divorce case involving this type of monetary support.
What exactly is alimony?
The purpose of spousal support is to keep a divorce from having an unfair economic impact on one spouse by making sure that he or she receives continual income from the other, higher-earning spouse. A main reason that alimony exists is because, in some cases, the lower-earning spouse decided to sacrifice his or her career to meet the family's needs by being a homemaker. With spousal support, this spouse can essentially buy himself or herself time to build and strengthen the job skills required to be self-sufficient from an economic standpoint.
How is alimony enforced?
Not all ex-spouses whom the court has ordered to pay spousal support will peacefully comply. Unfortunately, the enforcement of alimony is not on the level of the enforcement of child support, which may involve effective mechanisms such as liens and wage garnishment. However, if your ex-spouse is supposed to be paying alimony and fails to do so, you can go back to your family law court to force this payment through a contempt proceeding.
What is an alimony amount based upon?
A judge in a will take into consideration a multitude of alimony-related factors when determining the proper amount following a marital split-up. These include the following:
- How long your marriage lasted
- What you and your spouse's standard of living was
- Whether the spouse who will have to make payments will still be able to meet his or her own financial needs
- How long it would take for the recipient spouse to gain the training and education needed to become a self-supporting income earner
- You and your spouse's financial, emotional and physical conditions
- Any spousal violence or abuse history
It is within your rights, whether you will be the paying ex or the recipient ex following the divorce, to pursue the most personally favorable and fair outcome based on all of these factors in your spousal monetary support case.