A divorce is a financially stressful time for many people. You go from a dual income to a single income, and you may worry how you will pay the bills.

If you earn significantly less than your former spouse, this can be particularly scary. You cannot afford all your expenses on your own, but you are not sure if you qualify for spousal support. Here is what you need to know about how spousal support is awarded in California.

Court considers numerous factors

When determining whether you will receive spousal support and the amount, a judge reviews your case closely and considers several issues. According to the Judicial Branch of California, these factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • How to maintain the marital standard of living
  • Age and health of each partner
  • Income, as well as earning capacity
  • How caregiving may have affected a spouse’s career
  • Property owned
  • Debts owed
  • If one spouse helped the other through school or vocational training
  • Whether a job would interfere with childcare
  • Tax consequences
  • Whether domestic violence occurred in the marriage

There may also be other factors unique to your situation the judge chooses to consider while ruling on spousal support. When the judge reaches a decision, the spousal support order is filed with the final divorce paperwork.

Length of the marriage affects length of support

In California, when a marriage lasted less than 10 years, the spouse is usually awarded support for half of the length of their marriage. If you were married for 6 years, you would likely receive spousal support for three years.

For marriages lasting longer than 10 years, the court will typically not put a time limit on spousal support payments. However, the payments may not continue forever. The court ultimately wants to encourage people to become independent, so a former spouse may have to prove that they cannot work to continue to receive spousal support. This again, depends on your unique situation.

An attorney can protect your interests

As the lower earning spouse, you are already likely concerned about money. However, that does not mean you should forgo hiring an attorney. If your spouse has significant assets and income, there is little doubt he or she will hire a lawyer. To get what is fair, you should consider reaching out an experienced family law attorney. An attorney will gather evidence to substantiate your supposal support claim and negotiate on your behalf.

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