One of the questions most frequently asked by people in Sacramento contemplating a divorce is whether the court will order the payment of alimony. Some spouses believe that the court will order them to pay spousal support to the other spouse, and they want the amount set as low as possible. Spouses who expect to receive support want the amount to be as high as possible. Given the complexity of factors that must be considered by the court in awarding spousal support, only the simplest of financial situations permit anything close to an accurate prediction.
California law requires the court to consider 15 enumerated factors plus “any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.” The enumerated factors include the marketable skills of the party receiving support and that party’s future earning capacity. The court must also look at the ability of the supporting party to pay support and consider that party’s earning capacity, assets and the couple’s standard of living before the divorce. The court will also consider the duration of the marriage; in longer marriages, courts tend to increase the amount of alimony. The court must also take into account any history of domestic violence.
Some factors require the court to balance the interests of the parties. The court must consider the balance of hardships faced by each party, whether the supported party can become self-supporting within a reasonable time, which is defined as one-half the length of the marriage. The age and health of the parties must also be considered.
An experienced divorce lawyer can provide a helpful analysis of these factors and an evaluation of their effect on the amount of alimony that might be ordered by the court. In addition, a knowledgeable attorney can suggest strategies for increasing or decreasing the award of alimony depending upon the financial situations and wishes of the client.
Source: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov, “CHAPTER 2. Factors to be Considered in Ordering Support [4320 – 4326],” accessed on April 16, 2018