Spousal Support in California

Thanks to the internet and gossip websites, the public is quick to hear about the marriages and divorces of movie and television stars, reality stars, and professional athletes. Many of those marriages end within a couple of years or even months. Others last for quite some time. Robin Williams recently divorced his wife after 19 years of marriage.

So, how does the length of the marriage affect spousal support?

Length of marriage is only one of many factors in determining the amount and duration of spousal support, if any. Unlike child support, spousal support is not mandatory and courts have broad discretion in determining whether spousal support will be awarded, and if so, the duration and amount of support. California differentiates between short-term and long-term marriages. A marriage of 10 years or less, is generally considered “short-term” and spousal support is likely only payable for one-half of the years of marriage. For a marriage longer than 10 years, spousal support may be awarded for longer than one-half the length of the marriage and the Court will likely retain jurisdiction to award or modify spousal support for quite some time.

Although length of marriage is important in determining spousal support, the Court must consider a wide range of factors when making a permanent spousal support order. California Family Code §4320 states the specific factors that a Court must consider in determining Spousal Support, which include: the standard of living during the marriage, the marketable skills and employability of the supported party, ability to pay, the duration of the marriage, history of domestic violence, the goal that the supported party shall be self supporting within a reasonable period of time, and any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

Spousal support is a common issue for many of our clients at Mello & Pickering, LLP. We have represented both the paying spouse and the supported spouse in many cases. If you have questions about spousal support, or any other family law topic, call our office for a 20 minute phone consultation or an in person appointment at (408) 288-7800.