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How Does a Judge Make a Decision on California Spousal Support?

Spousal support or alimony is awarded in some, but not all, divorces in California.  In virtually all divorces, couples are encouraged to try to work out issues themselves outside of court without litigating matters like spousal support and asset division. If a couple cannot agree, a judge applies the laws found in Family Code Sections 4320How Does a Judge Make a Decision on California Spousal Support?

It is important to understand the different things a judge will consider when he makes a decision on California spousal support. If you know what judges look at, you can put together a very strong argument to try to convince the judge to award an amount of spousal support you feel is appropriate.  The Irvine, CA divorce attorneys at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP have helped many clients to make compelling cases on the issue of alimony. If you are divorcing, give us a call today so we can help you to put together a case.

How Does a Judge Make a Decision on California Spousal Support?

The factors outlined in Family Code Section 4320 are used by a judge to determine California spousal support. The judge will consider, among other things:

  • Whether the spouse’s earning capacity is sufficient to maintain the standard of living the couple established during the marriage.
  • The skills each spouse has that could allow him to get a job in the current job market.
  • The time and the expense required to allow a spouse to develop marketable skills that are a match for the job market.
  • Whether the spouse needs retraining or education in order to become employed and/or develop marketable skills to maintain the marital standard of living.
  • Whether the spouse’s earning capacity is affected by periods of unemployment during the marriage that were incurred to allow time devoted to domestic duties.
  • Whether the spouse contributed to the career opportunities, education, or attainment of a professional license for the other spouse.
  • The ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay child support, considering his or her earning capacity, assets, income, and standard of living.
  • The needs of each spouse based on the standard of living that was established during the course of the marriage.
  • The assets of each party, including separate and community property.
  • The obligations of each party, including separate debts and shared debts.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age of the spouses and the health of the spouses.
  • The ability of the spouse seeking support to become employed without adversely affecting the needs of dependent children in his or her custody.
  • Whether there is any documented evidence of domestic violence.
  • The tax consequences of spousal support to either party.

Typically, there is a goal established for a supported spouse to become employed within a period of time; however, there are exceptions in cases of marriages of long duration.

To learn more about how a judge will make a decision on California spousal support or for help putting together a strong case to convince the judge your preferred support amount is fair, contact Brown & Charbonneau, LLP today.