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An overview of spousal support in California

One of the biggest concerns for any Sacramento resident who is considering a divorce is the subject of alimony, or "spousal support," to use the preferred California term. Generally speaking, California courts will order one spouse to pay support to the other spouse to alleviate unfair economic burdens that will arise out of the divorce. The spouse with the lower income will usually receive an award of spousal support from the other spouse, but a mere comparison of income levels does not settle the question.

California law specifies five factors that must be considered by the court in deciding whether to award alimony. The age, physical condition and financial condition of each spouse must be reviewed. The court must also evaluate each spouse's future earning abilities. The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during their marriage will also bear on the court's decision. The amount of alimony generally reflects whether the couple enjoyed a relatively high standard of living or a lower standard. The length of the marriage will also affect the amount of alimony - the longer the marriage, the greater the amount of alimony that is ordered. Finally, the court will look at the ability of each spouse to be self-supporting.

Courts have the power to order five different kinds of alimony. Temporary alimony is ordered to ameliorate financial difficulty during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. Rehabilitative alimony is paid to permit one spouse to become self-supporting by finishing an educational degree or vocational training. Permanent alimony usually represents the court's final determination of alimony, and this form of alimony continues until the death of either spouse or the re-marriage of the payee spouse. Reimbursement alimony is paid to reimburse one spouse for expenses when such a payment is necessary to equalize the parties' financial situations. A court may also order lump-sum alimony in lieu of a property division.

Spousal support can be a complex subject, especially for couples with a large number of assets. Anyone worried about either paying spousal support or receiving support may wish to consult an experienced divorce lawyer for advice on the factors that may enter the court's judgment.

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