When a couple dissolves a marriage, one spouse may be ordered to pay the other spousal support or alimony. The judge uses specific factors to determine if a spouse is eligible for alimony and the monetary amount that is awarded.

One factor is the length of the marriage. The duration of a marriage is measured from the date the marriage began to the date the parties separated. The date of separation is important during divorce proceedings, and it might be debated by the parties involved. Spousal support is offered for an amount of time that is roughly one-half the longevity of the marriage. However, in marriages that last longer than 10 years, the court might choose to power to disregard this limit.

The court also considers domestic violence when making support decisions. When the receiving spouse was the abuser, the court may not be inclined to order support, but this may be rebutted during court proceedings. If the spouse who is paying support abused the receiving spouse, the emotional stress the abused individual suffered is evaluated.

The court also evaluates the skills the receiving spouse may have and whether they are able to find employment. If one spouse left the workforce to perform domestic tasks, the judge may take that into account and order support while they are retraining or seeking further education.

An attorney may assist a spouse who is seeking alimony by reviewing their need for assistance for household and other expenses while they are seeking to reestablish themselves in the workforce. The attorney may also help them structure a proposal for support that answers the court’s questions and puts forth a viable plan.

Source: California Courts, “Spousal/Partner Support“, September 22, 2014