Alimony and the earning capacity of a spouse

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Alimony |

A California judge will take a number of factors into account when determining how much a spouse should receive in alimony. These factors include the age of the spouses and the duration of the marriage. In addition, a judge will consider how much ability the receiving spouse will have to earn an income once the divorce is complete.

In some marriages, each spouse earns a steady income during the marriage. However, sometimes a married spouse does not have a job. If so, a divorce judge will likely pay special attention to whether the spouse has a good chance to earn a living as a single person.

Marketable skills of a spouse

As the California Courts website explains, a judge will examine the earning capacity of the spouse who will receive alimony. An earning capacity includes the marketable skills of the spouse. The judge will look at the education and experience level of a spouse and determine if the spouse can market those skills to the job market. If the spouse’s skills are in high demand, the spouse may receive a job in short order.

Some spouses do not have high demand skills. They may have to go back to school or receive training to achieve marketable skills or to train for a specific job. The time and expense needed to complete education or training will likely factor into alimony calculations.

Period of unemployment during marriage

Some spouses or domestic partners stay home to take care of children. As a result, the spouse is not earning income during that time. This unemployment period could hamper the ability of the spouse to market job skills, become known in the marketplace, or acquire job skills to keep up with a changing job market.

A divorce judge will generally consider this situation as part of evaluating the spouse’s earning capacity. If a spouse has lost some earning capacity by staying home, a judge may increase alimony payments to compensate for this time period of employment inactivity.