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How is spousal support determined in court?

Spousal support can be a hot topic, but when a couple separates, it's one that has to be discussed. The court has the ability to order one spouse to pay the other a portion of his or her income as support. The support is paid monthly and usually called spousal support, partner support or alimony.

The amount of spousal support paid is determined by looking at the length of the marriage, what each person pays or can pay to maintain their current standard of living, the age and health of each person and current debts and properties. Other factors that play a role in determining alimony include the tax impact alimony could have on the spouses and whether or not one spouse supported the other while he or she obtained a professional license. Other factors are also considered, depending on the couple's situation.

What happens after spousal support is ordered?

When spousal support is ordered, the spouse ordered to pay has to do so until the court releases him or her from that obligation. Failing to pay spousal support can result in wage garnishment for the amount in arrears. Interest is added to any balance in arrears.

Other serious consequences of not paying spousal support include being found in contempt of court and sent to jail. Usually, this is a last-ditch effort to make someone pay, and it's not used unless all other options have been exhausted. Your attorney can help you reach out to the courts if you aren't receiving the spousal support that has been ordered to you.

Source: California Department of Justice, "Spousal/Partner Support," accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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