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What is Spousal or Partner Support (alimony)?

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When a couple separates or divorces, one spouse or partner may need for the other to pay them a certain amount of support money each month. This is called "spousal or partner support," or "alimony."

If the couple can agree on the amount of spousal or partner support to be paid, and for how long, they can write down their agreement and get it notarized.

If they cannot agree on the amount of spousal or partner support to be paid, and for how long, they can ask the court to decide.


Temporary Spousal or Partner Support Orders

Either spouse or partner can ask for support to be paid while their case is going on.

  • Many counties have formulas for calculating the amount of a temporary spousal or partner support order. Various computer software programs such as "Support Tax" and "Dissomaster" calculate temporary spousal or partner support.

Special note: The judge cannot use a formula to figure out how much spousal or partner support to order at the end of the divorce case (called the "final judgment"). When the judge makes his or her final order, the judge must consider the factors in California Family Code, Section 4320. Opens new window


Final, or "Post Judgment" Spousal or Partner Support Orders

The judge will take many things into consideration when deciding what spousal or partner support should be ordered, such as:

  • How long the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership;
  • The age and health of each spouse or partner;
  • How much income each can earn on his or her own;
  • What the expenses of each spouse or partner are;
  • Whether there are minor children at home; and
  • The history of the way the couple handled money during the marriage or domestic partnership.


Spousal or partner support usually ends when:

  • A court order or judgment says it ends,
  • One of the spouses or partners dies, or
  • The person getting the support remarries or enters into a new domestic partnership.

Spousal or partner support can become a complicated legal issue. You may wish to talk to the Family Law Facilitator Opens new window in your county, or to seek advice from an attorney.

 

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