Which Spouse Pays Alimony After a California Divorce?
At Zwierzchowski & Nguyen, our divorce attorneys and Certified Family Mediators in Long Beach field many questions about spousal support in California, wondering who qualifies for alimony during or after a divorce.
The reality is, just because spousal support may be awarded for parties to maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living to that which they shared during the marriage, it is not automatic nor ordered in every divorce.
How is Spousal Support Determined in California?
Determining which spouse pays alimony in Los Angeles is definitely not a matter of gender or based on who initiated the divorce.
Alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis and is determined by the financial status of each spouse at the time of the divorce and is generally paid by the spouse earning a higher income.
Spousal support can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis and is designed to balance the divorcing couples’ financial resources.
If spouses cannot agree on alimony payments, a judge will assess the demonstrated financial need of one spouse, and the other’s ability to pay it.
When determining the amount of alimony to be paid, courts will review:
- How much money each person could reasonably earn each month
- What each person’s reasonable expenses are going to be after the divorce
- Whether spousal support would allow each spouse to go forward with a lifestyle somewhat close to the standard of living established during the marriage
Alimony may also differ depending on the level of education, career sacrifices, and vocational skills of each spouse. For example, if one spouse left his or her job to raise the couple’s children, he or she may be awarded spousal support while attempting to re-enter the workforce.
Can Couples Determine Spousal Support Without Going to Court?
The short answer is, yes. Divorcing couples may develop future plans — including spousal support agreements — on their own, during private discussions, through divorce mediation sessions, or courtroom litigation.
When couples can determine which one will pay or receive spousal support and for how long, without involving the courts, they often reach a mutually agreeable decision.
Conversely, if one spouse requests spousal support, and the other does not believe they should have to pay it, they are typically less likely to reach an agreement without a judge intervening, which takes the decision out of their control.
If you have questions about how your divorce will affect your current and future finances — and whether you may be eligible for temporary or permanent spousal support — contact our experienced Orange County divorce lawyers at Zwierzchowski & Nguyen today by calling 562-426-6522.