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What factors may a court consider when awarding spousal support?

When it comes to household income, every marriage in California is different. Sometimes, both spouses work outside the home and earn more or less the same amount. However, in some marriages, one spouse works outside the home while the other spouse stays out of the workforce to care for the family. Also, in other marriages both spouses work outside the home, but one spouse earns significantly more than the other.

No matter how spouses choose to "bring home the bacon," unfortunately, this does not always stop couples from fighting about money or other job-related topics. Sometimes these arguments, or arguments on other subjects, lead a couple to decide to divorce. In some divorces, the court finds it appropriate to award alimony -- also known as spousal support -- to the lesser-earning spouse. When this happens, the court does not use a formula to determine how much spousal support to award, but instead the court will consider a variety of factors.

One factor the court may consider is how long the marriage lasted. The court may also consider the needs of each spouse, keeping in mind the standard of living they enjoyed while married. Similarly, the court may consider what each spouse is able to pay to continue living the way they had while married. If there are children in the marriage, the court may consider whether or not working outside the home would make it too hard for the custodial parent to care for the children. The court may also consider how old each spouse is, and how healthy they are. Any assets and debts may be considered. If one spouse helped the other spouse obtain an education or further their career, this may also be considered. If one spouse stayed out of the workforce to care for the family, affecting his or her own career, this may be considered. Finally, the tax implications of being awarded spousal support may be considered.

As this shows, determining spousal support in California is done not by a formula, but instead is considered on a case-by-case basis. Coming to an agreeable spousal support award can be difficult, so those who are facing that prospect may benefit from securing the advice of an attorney.

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