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Understanding Alimony in California

In contested divorces, finance is often one of most stressful and tension-inducing topics. From arranging child support to deciding how property will be divided to determining whether or not one party owes the other alimony, money plays an integral role in any divorce. Understanding what kind of spousal support the court will ask you to provide your ex (or vice versa) allows you to handle your case with more confidence.

Whether you are seeking or required to pay alimony, Dan McCandless Law, APC, is here to help. Fill out our contact form online or give us a call at (858) 266-9171 to receive a free consultation from an experienced La Jolla alimony attorney.

How Do California Courts Determine Alimony?

Alimony allows both parties in a divorce to continue living with the same quality of life post-divorce as each individual experienced while married. California courts have a fair amount of leeway when determining alimony arrangements between ex-spouses, but their end goal is to create an alimony arrangement that's fair to both parties.

There's a common misconception that alimony agreements often favor women. In California, alimony simply exists to ensure that, if an individual makes less money than their ex, they can maintain the same lifestyle they maintained in the marriage post-divorce for a set amount of time.

California courts determine alimony using a variety of factors, such as:

  • What each party needs to maintain the same lifestyle post-divorce that they experienced while married.
  • What skills each party possesses and how likely each party is to earn a living that supports their lifestyle with those skills. For example, if a spouse in a marriage chose to be a stay-at-home spouse but has skills that allow them to find a lucrative job quickly post-divorce, they may not receive a lengthy or substantial amount of alimony.
  • Whether one party contributed to the other's education, job training, or similar development. If you paid for several years of your ex's medical school, for example, the court may ask you to pay less alimony.
  • The ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay alimony consistently.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • What assets each party owns. For example, if you earn less than your spouse but own a significantly valuable asset or piece of property, you may be entitled to less alimony.
  • How children involved will affect the arrangement. If you're used to homeschooling your children, for example, you may be entitled to more alimony while you figure out a new educational arrangement for them.
  • The age and health of both parties involved.
  • Whether domestic violence played a role in the divorce.
  • How the tax consequences of alimony will affect each party. For a long time, paying alimony was a tax incentive for the payor, since they could write off alimony payments. However, California recently disallowed tax deductions for alimony payments and made it unnecessary for alimony recipients to report alimony as taxable income. This change significantly shifts the benefits and disadvantages of alimony for both parties, so courts take it into account when determining alimony.
  • The hardships of each party. If one of the parties has an auto-immune disease that represents a barrier to employment, for example, they may require more alimony.
  • What arrangement will incentivize the party receiving alimony to become financially independent in a reasonable timeframe. Courts want to prevent a situation where a party avoids seeking employment so they can continue to receive alimony. California courts seek to establish an alimony arrangement that allows each party to maintain a certain standard of living post-divorce, but also incentivizes the alimony recipient to become financially independent as quickly as possible.

How Long Do Alimony Arrangements Last in San Diego?

For marriages that lasted less than a decade, most courts shoot for an alimony arrangement under five years long. However, for longer marriages, there is often no set duration for alimony arrangements. This is particularly true in cases where the party receiving alimony does not have skills that make them currently employable or faces other significant barriers to financial independence.

If you're currently navigating a stressful alimony arrangement, we can help you understand your case more thoroughly. La Jolla Alimony Attorney Dan McCandless will give your case the care and attention it deserves.

To receive a free consultation from Dan McCandless Law, APC, contact us online or via phone at (858) 266-9171.

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