When you and your spouse decide to divorce, you may wonder if you will have to pay alimony or if you will receive it. The answer depends on a number of factors. The Judicial Branch of California details what factors a judge considers when determining whether or not to award alimony.
One of the first factors a judge will consider when assessing the need for alimony is each spouse’s earning capacity and the standard of living established during the marriage or partnership. What the judge wants to see is that each spouse is capable of maintaining the same standard of living, or close to it, as that enjoyed during the union. When making this assessment, the judge will look at each party’s marketable skills, the job market for those particular skills, the time it will take for either party to develop more marketable skills and the extent to which either spouse was impaired by periods of unemployment during the marriage or partnership.
If the judge determines that alimony is necessary for either spouse to maintain the same standard of living established during the union, he or she will then consider the duration of the union. The duration of the union is closely related to the duration of long-term or permanent spousal support. In awarding alimony, the judge hopes that the person who needs financial assistance will be able to provide for him- or herself within a “reasonable period of time.” California law states that a “reasonable period of time” is one-half the length of the union, though judges are free to use their discretion to make a different determination. If the union lasted for more than 10 years, the judge may decide that an end date is not appropriate.
Finally, the judge will consider whether any violence took place during the marriage or partnership. If one party was abusive, the judge may decide that alimony is necessary to compensate the injured party for his or her emotional duress.
This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.