How is Spousal Support Determined in California?

During the divorce process you might encounter a petition for spousal support. Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is not an uncommon request and may be granted, along with child support (or in the absence of child support) for a number of reasons. The court decides what the appropriate spousal support is for each particular case, by taking into consideration the specifics of the case, the marriage, the length of the marriage as well as other circumstances.

Spousal Support in California

Spousal support, often a hot button issue, is decided in California by considering many different aspects of the marriage, and the life that will be led by both parties after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage often comes into play when a court is ruling on spousal support. The length of the marriage greatly impacts whether or not spousal support will be granted, often times.

A judge will also consider whether or not the person who is asking for spousal support can support themselves with marketable skills. For example, if a 20 year marriage dissolves in which the wife has never worked, she is unlikely to have marketable skills, and, thus will require support until marketable skills or necessary education is achieved.

A court will also take into account whether or not the party asking for spousal support has had their income potential impaired by their time spent outside the workforce because of the marriage. The court will decide whether or not the supported party was removed from the workforce to devote time to their marriage and domestic work, as well.

The supporting party’s needs are also taken into account when dealing with spousal support in court. For example, a judge will consider the lifestyle that both parties have become accustom to in the marriage, and he or she will also look at the monetary obligations of both parties. The supporting party must be able to sustain their own lifestyle appropriately while paying spousal support, and the court will not impose a financial hardship on one party in the interest of the other.

How Does Child Support Impact Spousal Support

Spousal support can be granted regardless of whether or not children were conceived during the marriage, however, many courts rule more favorably for spousal support if there are children involved, specifically, if the supported individual gave up their employment in the interest of caring for children. In many cases, the court agrees that the supported party should not take time away from the raising of children, as they had done during the marriage, for gainful employment and will rule in favor of spousal support to keep the children in a lifestyle they are both familiar and comfortable with. With that being said, however, spousal support can have an end date, and in cases were raising children is a deciding factor, the spousal support may end when the children involved in the case reach an age in which they can reasonably care for themselves.

The Length of Spousal Support

Many people think of spousal support as a never ending agreement. That simply is not the case. In the state of California, most spousal support decrees are for no longer than half the length of the marriage. This is considered enough time for the supported party to gain the skills they need to support their own lifestyle and interests. The length of the marriage, the age and the health of the parties, and other previsions may alter that time frame, however.

What is Pre-Divorce Legal Counseling?

Maintaining a healthy, vibrant marriage can be difficult. Even under the best of circumstances, marriage is a stressful and complex world. Some of these stresses and complexities can cause your marriage to become strained, forcing you to consider divorce as your only option. But, there is a way to protect yourself when going down that costly and often emotionally devastating route.

If you feel that your marriage is beyond repair and divorce is the only option, pre-divorce counseling can help to minimize the often negative impacts associated with these proceedings. Marriages can fail for many reasons, whether you think it’s your partner’s fault or not, your irreconcilable differences could end up requiring pre-divorce counseling before all is said and done.


Although many states do not require counseling by law, you may still want to inform yourself of these services once your relationship gets to this point. Counseling could help you with attempts for the reconciliation of your marriage, or if that’s not an option, it will provide you with resources you can rely on when your divorce goes to litigation hearings. Divorces can be ugly for all parties involved. Pre-divorce counseling can help prepare you for the emotional aspects of what is to come regarding the circumstances of your divorce.

Counseling can also show you and your spouse how to develop the necessary skills for separating practical issues with emotional ones. This is extremely important when dealing with decisions on dividing personal assets, acquired debt, and in many cases, children responsibilities. Counseling can assist you and your spouse when it comes to engaging with one another in a more productive environment so that all parties’ best interests are protected.

Counseling should be your attempt to navigate the separation process while going through the divorce in the most amicable way for both you and your spouse. This will result in the least collateral damage during the process, and will protect you, and possibly your children as well.

Is Pre-Divorce Counseling In The Best Interest For All Parties Involved?

If there are children involved, take a deeper look into the issues of your problems. You at least owe this to them and this may give you one last chance to keep your marriage together. If you have a good marriage counselor, and aren’t too far gone within your own relationship, you may be able to get back that strong bond your marriage once had. But, if you still feel like divorce is the best option, at least you will now have the added benefit of going through the process and you will come out much stronger because of it.

When choosing a pre-divorce counselor, it’s important to remember that they are not all alike. Some may be good, while others may not be as educated and experienced. If you and your spouse feel like your marital issues are not being addressed properly or being recognized at all, go to another counselor and see if they are able to help you better. Every counselor brings their own unique perspective to a situation. Healing a marriage can be a daunting task, and not all counselors may be up to that task when it comes to your circumstances.


On the other hand, if you find that you’re continuously bouncing from one counselor to another, maybe it’s time to take a good, long look at yourself and see if you are the one being resistant to what they are offering. Divorce can cause you many unwanted stresses. Counseling doesn’t have to be one of those stresses.