If you’re filing for divorce in San Diego, CA, you may be worried about your immediate financial situation. What if you left the workforce years ago to raise a family and support your spouse’s career? What if your skills and experience aren’t sufficient to let you maintain the lifestyle you enjoyed while married?
Alimony is intended to prevent a lower-income spouse from experiencing financial hardship due to divorce. There are two types:
- Temporary: With temporary spousal support, you receive payments while the divorce is pending.
- Post-Divorce Judgment: This support is what you commonly think of as alimony. The court will calculate the monthly amounts and duration of payments using 14 factors outlined below.
How is Temporary Alimony Calculated in CA?
When calculating temporary spousal support, California family courts generally use one of two guidelines.
The alimony calculator used in San Diego is the ‘Santa Clara Guideline,’ which could compel the paying spouse to remit up to 40% of their monthly net income in alimony payments. If this spouse is already paying child support, alimony payments are calculated after taking this obligation into account. A San Diego alimony lawyer can let you know what to expect if the court handling your divorce uses this guideline.
Another commonly-used alimony calculator is the ‘Alameda Guideline,’ which states that the presumptive payment amount is 40% of the payor’s net monthly income, reduced by one-half of the receiving spouse’s monthly income. If child support is being paid, the payments factor into the calculation.
How is Permanent Alimony Calculated in CA?
‘Permanent’ alimony refers to support paid after the divorce is finalized. In most divorce cases today, any alimony awarded doesn’t last indefinitely, although there are exceptions.
As a general rule, payments are meant to last until the supported spouse acquires the training or education they need to become financially self-sufficient. For marriages lasting less than 10 years, the norm is approximately half of the duration of the marriage. For example, if you were married for six years, you could potentially receive alimony for three.
When determining the amount of alimony to award, the court considers the guidelines set forth in California Family Code Section 4320. They are as follows:
- Your marketable skills. Is there a job market for them? Or do you need time to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills further? If there is currently no market, what type of education or retaining do you need to acquire marketable skills?
- Whether you took time off to raise a family. Are your skills out of date because you left the workforce to support your spouse and/or raise children?
- Whether you contributed to your spouse’s education, training, career, or professional license.
- Your spouse’s ability to pay alimony. The court will take into account their earning capacity, income, assets, and standard of living.
- The needs of each spouse based on the standard of living you established while married.
- The length of the marriage. Longer marriages are more likely to result in an alimony award than shorter ones.
- Each spouse’s property and obligations.
- The age and health of each spouse.
- Your ability to maintain gainful employment without unduly affecting your ability to look after your children.
- Any history of domestic violence during the marriage.
- Any immediate and specific tax consequences to you and your spouse.
- The presence of any hardship to either of you.
- Whether you have a criminal conviction for abusive conduct toward your spouse.
- Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
By working with an experienced San Diego family law attorney, you stand the best chance of getting the alimony award you need to achieve financial dependence and peace of mind.
San Diego Alimony FAQs
What is the 10-year rule?
In California, marriages of 10 years or longer are considered to be marriages of long duration. However, this does not mean that you will automatically receive spousal support for life. Although the court cannot terminate jurisdiction to award alimony by a certain date, it can set spousal support at zero which may eliminate ongoing spousal support.
Can I collect alimony if I was in a registered domestic partnership?
Yes. Registered domestic partners in California essentially have the same rights as married couples, including the right to seek support payments if the relationship ends. The alimony calculator used will be the same as that used for marriages.
My spouse repeatedly cheated during our marriage. Does this affect alimony?
Infidelity is not a factor when determining spousal support, as California is a no-fault state for divorce. However, if your spouse has asked for alimony while living with a new partner, it may be assumed that they have a decreased need for financial support. Your San Diego alimony lawyer will give you the right legal advice for this situation.
Can my spouse stop paying alimony when they retire?
In re Marriage of Reynolds (1998), the Superior Court of Riverside County confirmed that Californians are entitled to retire at age 65; however, a lower amount of support can still be awarded depending on the circumstances.
Can my spouse collect alimony after remarriage?
No. If your former spouse marries again, your support obligation ends. However, if there is a wage assignment in place, you may need to obtain a court order terminating it.
My spouse doesn’t want to work. Can they be forced to become self-supporting?
While you can’t force your former spouse to get a job, your attorney can help you seek a vocational assessment and petition the court to lower or terminate alimony payments. A judge may issue your former spouse a Gavron Warning, which is a notice advising them that they are expected to take measures to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
How are alimony payments treated for tax purposes?
For support orders issued before 2019, if you receive alimony in California, you must report it as income on your state tax return. If you are the payor, you may deduct it from your income on your return. For support orders issued after January 1, 2019, support is no longer taxable to the payee or tax-deductible for the payor.
How can I modify an alimony order after a divorce in California?
If you are paying spousal support and experience a change in circumstances, such as job loss or reduced income, you can seek a modification to make the payments more sustainable. When considering your request, the court will look at your financial situation and, if it decides that a modification is warranted, make the appropriate order.
Have Additional Questions?
California alimony laws are complex, with many issues to consider. Contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates today to discuss your options. We are prepared to fight to protect what is yours.