The way alimony is determined in California is different than the way child support is determined. In deciding on the specifics of spousal support, the court has wide discretion. Courts might consider factors like the emotional state, financial condition, physical condition or age of the parties as well as the length of time they were married and their marital standard of living.

Courts might also consider an ex’s ability to make payments or the amount of time the spouse receiving alimony will need for training or education in order to earn enough money without alimony. The length of time that alimony payments continue varies from case to case. If the divorce decree does not include a date on which payments will cease, then they continue until an order terminating payments is entered by the court.

In most cases, alimony is discontinued if the receiving spouse gets married again. Payments may continue even after the death of the payer spouse in some cases. If the receiving spouse has little prospect of future employment, due to health considerations or age, the court might require the estate of the payor to continue payments or order that proceeds from life insurance policies go to the receiving spouse.

In divorce cases where alimony is an issue, divorce attorneys often negotiate the terms of payments or argue for particular arrangements in family court. An attorney with experience in divorce law could help a soon-to-be ex-spouse by negotiating property division. Legal counsel might also secure an order terminating alimony payments if the receiving spouse remarries.