California is a community property state, meaning that the division of marital assets in a divorce should be an even split. However, the final divorce decree may achieve this end in a variety of ways depending upon factors such as the type of assets owned, whether there are children to consider and whether spousal support is needed. Spousal support is not a given in divorce even if one party makes more money than the other. Courts consider many factors in determining if support payments should be included and, if so, how much.
Spousal support may be awarded if it appears that a spouse might not be able to keep the standard of living he or she enjoyed while married. This does not necessarily mean that if someone did not work while married that their spouse automatically will need to supply the non-working party with enough funds to maintain their former lifestyle. Courts consider a party’s capacity to earn and obtain a job, if he or she is caring for dependents, the duration of the marriage and the extent to which one spouse might have contributed to the higher-earning partner’s ability to make money.
A party’s ability to pay support and their individual assets are also considered. Each person’s overall health and their age are important factors. How people would be affected by taxes if spousal support were awarded and any hardships to the spouses are looked at. If there is a history of domestic violence that would factor into the court’s decision as well.
Ideally, spousal support is meant to last only as long as necessary for someone to become self-sufficient. An attorney could assist a client in demonstrating to the court the need for such payments.
Source: Divorce Support, “California Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors“, September 16, 2014