When going through a divorce in California, a couple can come to an agreement about alimony or a court can make a ruling. Spousal support may go to the spouse that makes less income or who is the primary parent, and in general it is used to lessen the negative economic effects resulting from a divorce. This allows the recipient to continue to retain his or her standard of living after a divorce.

Courts determine alimony based on each couple’s situation and have discretion when deciding on awarding it. While the amount of the payments and length of time they last varies, most courts look at the couple’s standard of living during the marriage, length of the marriage and the financial condition of both spouses.

Alimony typically ends if the spouse receiving support remarries, but spousal support may continue until a specific date or until the court orders differently. The payments may go on long enough for a recipient to learn the skills needed to become self-sufficient, or more support may be needed if a former spouse cannot work due to age or health reasons. In some cases, alimony will not end upon the death of the payor but instead may be funded out of the decedent’s estate or life insurance proceeds.

There are many decisions to make when divorcing, and a court will rule on these decisions if a couple is unable to reach an agreement. However, couples may have other options instead of ligation, and alternative methods might be less costly and time-consuming than ligation. Some couples use a mediator who helps both parties communicate and resolve issues, and others have their respective attorneys attempt to negotiate a comprehensive agreement.

Source: Findlaw, “Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics“, September 04, 2014