The Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support2023-12-13T10:43:15+00:00

If you are ending a marriage, one of the biggest stressors you may face is money. Figuring out finances for you, your partner, or your children can be complicated and heated. While everyone can generally understand the need to financially support children through the dissolution of a marriage, many people have a difficult time understanding why a spouse should receive financial support.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also often called alimony, is money that one spouse is ordered to pay the other during, and sometimes after, a divorce. Spousal support is intended to equalize possible income disparities between the parties and allow a spouse time to find a job or become self-sufficient. A court may order either spouse to pay support, it is not limited to a specific gender. Spousal support is more likely to be ordered if there is a high income disparity between partners.

Long Term Versus Temporary Support

In California, a temporary spousal support order is generally based on a specific state formula and considers the income of both spouses and the ability of the higher earning spouse to pay. A temporary order generally applies only during the divorce and may be ordered along with child support.

A permanent spousal support order occurs with the dissolution of a marriage. The length of your marriage will usually determine how long you will receive or pay spousal support. In California, permanent spousal support will typically last for one half of the duration of a marriage of 10 years or less. For longer marriages, determining the duration and amount of spousal support is much more complicated.

Under California Family Code section 4320, the court must consider:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The marketable skills of the payee
  • The financial needs and obligations of the payee
  • Whether and to what extent the payee’s earning capacity was impaired by periods of unemployment while caring for the family
  • Whether and to what extent the payee’s earning capacity was impaired by periods of unemployment while caring for the family

The court may also consider things like domestic violence or any other situations that it considers equitable. Determining both temporary and permanent spousal support can be complicated. If you are contemplating divorce and are concerned about receiving or paying spousal support, you should contact an attorney for help.

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