Is There Such a Thing as Permanent Spousal Support in California?

Posted in Spousal Support on December 16, 2020

Spousal support, also commonly known as alimony and spousal maintenance, is a financial award a judge may grant during a divorce or legal separation case in California if the lesser-earning spouse qualifies. Although the terms temporary and permanent spousal support exist in California law, permanent spousal support is somewhat of a misnomer. Permanent alimony typically does not last for life and can be modified in certain situations.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in California?

Temporary vs. permanent spousal support refers to the date of the court order rather than the duration of the payments. Temporary spousal support is an award granted before the finalization of a divorce. The spouse with the lesser earning capacity of the two parties, can file a request for temporary spousal maintenance for support during divorce proceedings. A temporary support order will automatically end when a judge finalizes the divorce. At this point, a permanent special support order may or may not take effect. If a judge grants permanent spousal support, one payor spouse will have to pay to the supported spouse after a divorce for a certain amount of time. The other phrase for permanent spousal support is long-term support. Rather than helping the lesser-earning spouse pay for things during a divorce, permanent alimony supports the recipient after the divorce to ensure that he or she maintains the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. The length of time a permanent spousal support order will last depends on the case.

What Factors Are Taken Into Account When Outlining Spousal Support?

When making a spousal support determination, the courts in California will assess many different factors. The main question the courts will ask is if the spouse requesting this type of support has the ability to maintain his or her marital standard of living after the divorce. If the answer is no, with a supporting reason such as giving up his or her career to raise children, a judge will most likely grant a spousal support request. A judge will look at other factors, as well.

  • Standard of living
  • Length of the marriage
  • The financial resources of each party
  • Each party’s education and job experience
  • Whether one spouse gave up a job to raise a family
  • If the recipient has the capacity to get education and training for a job
  • Individual contributions to the marriage
  • Parenting responsibilities
  • Relevant tax issues
  • Fault for the divorce

The most common factor used to decide the duration of a spousal support order is the length of the marriage. If married for less than 10 years, a judge will typically award alimony for half the length of the marriage. If married for more than 10 years, a judge can decide. While it is possible for a judge in California to award alimony for long term periods, like a spouse’s lifetime, this is rare and only occurs in limited circumstances. An award with a set end date is more common. permanent alimony in California

How Much Will Permanent Spousal Support Cost on Average?

There is no hard and fast rule for determining the value of a spousal support award in California. A judge will determine this amount on a case-by-case basis. Courts will look at the marital standard of living as a guideline, as well as how much each spouse makes. Some people have to pay several hundred dollars in permanent spousal support, while others pay thousands to a supported party. For an idea of what you or your spouse may have to pay, contact a family law attorney. A spousal support order may end early if the receiving spouse remarries, gets a job or if there are other relevant changes in circumstances. It is also possible to alter a spousal support agreement if either spouse experiences a significant change in income from the date the order was made, such as the loss of a job. Learn more about spousal support in your divorce case by contacting a family lawyer.