California shows gender neutrality when allowing a spouse to request spousal support in a divorce. That means either spouse, husband or wife, in both traditional and same-sex marriages, may ask for alimony. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter which party filed for divorce initially; either spouse can ask for support payments. There aren’t any specific requirements for asking for alimony payments in a California divorce. However, there are some instances in which a judge will automatically deny spousal support. There are, though, circumstances that will be given certain considerations by a judge. In these situations, it is ideal to have a qualified spousal support attorney review your request and optimize your chances of getting a judge to sign off on alimony payments.
What California Judges Consider When Deciding to Award Alimony
While there are no specific conditions one must meet to receive spousal support in California, there are certain things that a judge will look for when considering a request. If you’re on the opposite side of the courtroom looking for ways to avoid paying alimony, this information can also be useful.
One thing a judge will look at is the duration of the marriage. Marriages that lasted less than 10 years rarely get approved for alimony payments, except for unique circumstances. Even still, a marriage of 10 years will still need extenuating circumstances for a judge to deem spousal support a necessity. Individuals hoping to get alimony in their divorce should speak to a qualified alimony lawyer to discuss the ideal way they can present their case. That way, they can better their chances of getting support payments approved.
Another big factor in spousal support determination is the income earnings of both parties. Alimony is typically reserved for divorce cases in which one spouse makes a substantially larger amount of income than the other spouse. It also helps when the lower-income spouse does not work, though a low-paying job may still warrant a need for support. The judge will also heavily consider the potential to earn an income for the spouse requesting support.
Temporary Spousal Support vs. Long-Term Spousal Support
In some cases, the judge may grant temporary spousal support, which are payments made by the higher-earning party to the lower-earning party for the duration of the divorce proceedings. These last until assets are divided and the case is finalized. At that time, temporary spousal support payments end, and the judge may then order long-term spousal support. If so, the court’s determined alimony payment amount will be disclosed in the divorce decree. Payments will be required to begin after the divorce is final.
Spousal support payments typically have an expiration date written in the court order. Generally, support payments will be required to last for half the length of the marriage.
Permanent Spousal Support Payments
Permanent support orders are less frequently issued. To gain approval from a judge for permanent spousal support payments, it is in the interest of the party requesting this type of support to seek representation and legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in these matters.
Spousal Support and Remarriage
State law dictates that, when the supported spouse gets remarried, the obligation for future alimony payments ends. There is no need to file a motion to terminate support, nor is there any further action required with the court on behalf of the paying spouse. The supported spouse, however, must notify the paying spouse if they get remarried, or the court will order a refund of any excess payments made past the date of the new marriage. These repayments will be paid from the supported spouse to the paying spouse. This may require the paying spouse to go back to court to terminate support payments and request a court order for a refund of the excess payments. Furthermore, if the paying spouse owes overdue support payments, the remarriage of the supported spouse will not relieve the responsibility of the paying spouse to fulfill those obligations.
Tax Considerations of Spousal Support
When requesting spousal support, it is important to consider the tax repercussions for receiving support payments in California. The party that pays support can deduct the payments from their income tax filings. Consequently, the person who receives the support payments must report them as income. Federal income taxes will also be affected. Court orders made after January 1, 2019, are not eligible for federal tax deductions, nor do recipients have to claim them on their federal tax forms.
Q: What Qualifies a Spouse for Alimony in California?
A: According to state law, alimony, or spousal support, is a gender-neutral term, and either spouse may request support. The only eligibility requirements, per se, are that one spouse makes a significantly higher amount of money than the other spouse, who has a low earnings potential and/or limited income or potential to earn income.
Q: Can a Working Woman Get Alimony in California After a Divorce?
A: Typically, spousal support awards a spouse with financial support from the spouse with higher earnings. The unemployed spouse does not typically have a steady source of income if any at all. However, a spouse with a low-paying job with limited potential for higher earnings or work hours may still be able to receive court-ordered alimony payments. This is ideally carried out with the assistance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney who knows what to say in the courtroom.
Q: How Long After a Divorce Can You Ask for Alimony in California?
A: You can request that your spouse pay you alimony as soon as you wish, following the finalization of the divorce, but only if a payment schedule is not set forth in the divorce decree. This is a court order that must be carried out, and if it is not adhered to, court action can be taken against the spouse in contempt of the divorce decree.
Q: Do I Qualify for Alimony in California?
A: There are no eligibility requirements for alimony payments in California. However, the longer a marriage was, the more likely a judge is to grant alimony support payments. The shortest timeframe for spousal support is a marriage that lasted 10 years, and then spousal payments are only ordered for half the time the marriage lasted.
Securing a Qualified California Spousal Support Attorney
The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, focuses on helping clients meet their goals, whether they aim to receive adequate spousal support or ensure community assets are divided properly. With a prestigious certification from The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in family law, experience in the field of psychology, and more than 30 years of experience in family law, our firm can frame a successful legal strategy for your case. Contact The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, to retain our legal counsel in your spousal support case.