During a separation or divorce, the family law courts in California may order one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other a specific amount of support money each month. It is called spousal support for married couples and partner support in domestic partnerships, but most commonly known as alimony.
In general, the spouse or partner who is more financially stable will be responsible for paying the other spouse alimony. But it is not as simple as that. Spousal and partner support are often disputed and complex legal issues. There are several types of alimony and each has its own requirements. A divorce lawyer can help you understand who will pay the alimony, how long the support may last, and how it may affect your taxes and prepare court forms.
Alimony Guidelines in California
Each marriage or partnership has unique and specific circumstances that may qualify one spouse for certain types of alimony. There are three general types of alimony in California:
Alimony Pendente Lite: This alimony is crucial in some cases because there is a 6-month waiting period for divorce in California. This type of alimony can be granted when you file for divorce. During that timeframe, you may need to get support while you are still legally married, especially if the other spouse or partner controls bank accounts or other financial assets. It is important to understand that this alimony typically stops when the divorce is finalized.
Temporary Alimony: Alimony can be granted after the divorce for a set amount of time. Its purpose is to help you get back on your feet after a divorce and support you while you attend school or seek job retraining. Temporary spousal support is the most common type of alimony awarded.
Reimbursement Alimony: Typically, this is granted if you worked to support your spouse or domestic partner through college, medical school, law school or other education and licensing. Reimbursement alimony is recognition for your financial contributions and as a form of payback for that support.
Permanent Alimony: This type of alimony is often the most difficult to attain as the other spouse/partner will most likely dispute permanent alimony. This alimony is usually granted when one spouse/partner has a serious need for ongoing alimony payments, courts may grant you permanent alimony. Permanent alimony may be granted if one party has serious health concerns or needs to care for the children.
Whether you are the spouse or partner paying or receiving, it is important to understand the type of alimony and the duration. You may have reasons for or against the type of alimony being requested. A consultation with a family law attorney can help you establish a strong case so that it is presented well to the family court and the outcome is fair for both parties. In addition, a family law attorney can help you collect spousal support after the court order.