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Understanding spousal support

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Divorce |

Spousal support is payment that a current or ex-spouse pays the other to cover the other’s living expenses. This is a court-ordered payment, and not all judges will grant support.

There are two types of support. A judge considers various factors when determining the approval, amount and duration of support.

Types of support

The California Courts discusses that temporary support is one type that a spouse can request at the filing of a family law case. If granted, these payments help to pay bills until a judge makes a determination for permanent support.

Permanent support, better known as long-term support, is more common in marriages lasting a long time and when one spouse made much more than the other. This type of spousal support does not occur often, and there is usually an end date for the payments.

Factors considered in support decisions

The California Legislative Information outlines factors a judge looks at when determining support:

  • The obligations and needs of each party
  • The ability of each party to pay
  • The marketing skills and earning capacity of each party
  • Health and age of each party
  • Length of the marriage

The judge also considers if one spouse took time off of work to work in the home and how that affects the current ability to earn a sufficient income.

Duration of spousal support

Temporary support usually lasts until the end of the case. For permanent support, and in situations in which the marriage lasted fewer than 10 years, payments generally end after the amount of time that equals half of the marriage duration. For marriages longer than 10 years, support often continues for as long as the other spouse needs it, unless the spouse remarries or either party dies.


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