If you worry that you cannot support yourself after divorce, you can ask the court for spousal support. California law allows support, also called alimony, in certain limited circumstances.

Learn about the rules governing California spousal support before you file for divorce.

Requesting support

You can ask the court for spousal support in your divorce petition. Once you file, you will receive a court date and your spouse will have a chance to answer your petition. He or she can agree with your alimony request or refute your request. If you agreed on spousal support in your prenuptial agreement, the court will likely abide by those terms.

Calculating alimony

In general, state law allows permanent spousal support to last about half the length of the marriage. However, you can ask the court for extended alimony if your marriage lasted longer than 10 years. In either case, the judge will review:

  • Both spouse’s education and ability to earn a living
  • How you and your spouse contributed to the marriage, including both financially and by contributing to household management and child care
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The lifestyle you and your spouse shared while married
  • Each person’s age and health
  • How much you each earn and will expect to earn in the future

Each county has its own rules for temporary spousal support, which lasts only from the separation date to the divorce date. Los Angeles County and Orange County use rules called the Santa Clara guidelines. These guidelines order temporary alimony in the amount of 40% of the net monthly income of the paying spouse minus half the net monthly income of the receiving spouse.