If you are considering divorce in California, it is important to understand the alimony laws and how they may impact you. Many people ask, “How can I avoid paying alimony in California?” This is a highly complex question, as many factors will determine whether you pay alimony and how much. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every situation is different, and the best way to avoid paying alimony will vary depending on your specific circumstances.
However, by taking the time to understand the most common ways to avoid alimony payments, you can put yourself in a much better position to protect your finances.
What Is Alimony?
First, it’s essential to know what alimony is and why people pay it. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is one spouse’s payment to another after divorce. The purpose of alimony is often for the recipient to maintain their standard of living and help them get back on their feet after the divorce.
Is Alimony Mandatory in California?
In California, alimony is not mandatory. However, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the court may order them to pay alimony to the lower-earning spouse. Other factors that could influence a court’s decision include:
- Each spouse’s earning capacity: A spouse with a higher earning capacity is more likely to be ordered to pay alimony. The age, education, and work experience of each spouse can also be considered. For example, if the lower-earning spouse is still young, has a bachelor’s degree, and has work experience in their field, there is evidence that they are likely to earn more in the future. Therefore, it is less likely that they will receive alimony payments in this case.
- The length of the marriage: The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that alimony payments will be ordered. Brief marriages rarely result in alimony payments, while lengthy marriages are more likely to have one spouse ordered to pay the other.
- The standard of living during the marriage: If one spouse was accustomed to a high standard of living during the marriage, they are more likely to receive alimony payments after divorce. This is because alimony helps the recipient maintain their standard of living after divorce until they reach a point where they are more self-sufficient.
- Each spouse’s physical, emotional, and financial condition: If one spouse is in poor health or has a low income, they are more likely to receive alimony payments. Conversely, if one spouse is in good health and has a high income, they are less likely to receive alimony payments.
While alimony is not mandatory in California, the court will often order payments based on a number of these factors. Therefore, if you’re trying to avoid paying alimony, it’s essential to be aware of these factors and consider them when making your case.
Top Ways to Avoid Paying Alimony in California
There are a few basic steps that you can take to help avoid paying alimony after divorce in California.
- Spousal support is not automatic: One of the most important things to understand about spousal support is that it is not automatic. In other words, just because you get divorced doesn’t mean you will have to start paying alimony. Instead, you and your spouse will need to go through a “determination of support” process to determine if alimony payments should be made from one person to another. And, in some cases, the court may decide that neither spouse is entitled to alimony payments.
- Get a prenuptial agreement: If you’re worried about the possibility of paying alimony in the future, then you can help protect yourself by signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenup (as it is commonly known) clarifies the financial arrangements between you and your spouse in the event of a divorce. This can be an important document if one or both of you have many assets you want to protect.
- Prove your spouse is cohabiting with someone else: If you can prove that your spouse is living with someone else, you may be able to get out of paying spousal support altogether. Likewise, if you can show that your spouse can earn a reasonable living, you may be able to have your alimony payments reduced or eliminated.
- Choose the right divorce attorney: Another key factor in avoiding alimony payments is choosing the right divorce attorney. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you make the best decisions for your case. As a result, choosing an attorney who is well-versed in spousal support can significantly increase your chances of avoiding payments.
- Be fair: When it comes to alimony, the court will often look at both spouses’ incomes and assets to determine a fair payment. If you can show that you are willing to be fair and split your assets equally, then the court may be more likely to rule in your favor.
FAQs About Alimony in California
I’m self-employed. Will this affect my alimony payments?
It can. The court will take several factors into account when calculating an alimony payment. This includes the amount of time you spend working and your business income if any.
I’m retired. Do I still have to pay alimony?
California law notes that once an individual reaches retirement age (usually 65), the individual is not required to continue working to pay spousal support.
What is the “marital standard of living”?
This is the level of lifestyle that you and your spouse enjoyed during the marriage. The court will consider this when deciding on alimony payments.
What is the average alimony payment in California?
The best way to determine, on average, how much an individual might pay for alimony is by taking 35% to 45% of the highest income earner’s salary and subtracting 40% to 50% of the lower-income earner’s salary. These are only rough estimates, and the actual amount of alimony payments will vary depending on the specific situation.
Contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers for Alimony Support
At the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, we understand that alimony can be a challenging subject for many people. That’s why we’re here to help. Our attorneys have years of experience in family law and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about spousal support.
If you’re looking for help avoiding alimony payments, or if you need assistance with an existing alimony order, contact us today to learn more and begin your case.