Divorce often entails an uncertain financial future for one or both spouses. Spousal maintenance, called alimony, is used by the California courts to ameliorate certain financial hardships. Understanding the nature and justification for each type of spousal support may help persons prepare for the financial consequences of divorce.
Temporary alimony is paid when the couple separates, but before the divorce becomes final. Permanent alimony is paid after the divorce becomes final and continues indefinitely or until one former spouse dies.
Rehabilitative alimony is paid to enable the payee spouse to become financially self-supporting. This type of alimony is paid by a former spouse to ameliorate expenses, such as re-training.
Lump sum alimony is paid in a single amount or in instalments. This form of alimony is usually ordered in lieu of dividing marital assets.
If the divorcing spouses can reach agreement on spousal maintenance, its amount and terms may be included in a marital termination agreement. Whether alimony is part of an agreement or ordered by the court, the parties should familiarize themselves with the legal bases for granting the various types of alimony.
The court takes into account the age, physical condition, financial condition and earning abilities of each party. The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during their marriage may also be considered. The length of the marriage is also important. The longer the marriage lasted, the greater the chance that one spouse will be required to pay permanent alimony. The court will also look at the ability of the payor spouse to support himself or herself.
Alimony can be a very complex subject, especially for high-asset couples. Anyone concerned about the financial consequences of a divorce may wish to consult a lawyer who is experienced in advising wealthy people on issues of property division, alimony and child support.
Source: FindLaw.com, “California Spousal Support or Alimony Law,” accessed on Sept. 11, 2017