How Is Alimony Calculated In California?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsIn California, the term alimony is referred to as “spousal support.” A court in California may order the higher earner between the couple irrespective of the gender to pay the other party so that the latter can maintain the same lifestyle for a specific time period when they want to end the marriage permanently. However, the law in the state of California also prescribe the a court needs to review several factors to determine and award permanent spousal support to the lower earning spouse. The court enjoys the final discretion to settle alimony matters. An Orange County divorce lawyer can play a crucial role to furnish evidence of all those factors that come under review.

Duration of alimony in California

How long a spouse will be awarded with a spousal support is frequently linked to the duration for which the parties were married. When a couple has been married for less than a decade (10 years), a judge will typically not award spousal support for more than 50 percent of the marriage length. On the other hand, when the parties have been married for a minimum of ten years or more, the court may not dictate a specific date of termination for spousal support when the couple gets married. However, both the parties have the liberty to request for changes time and again till the time they specifically give a nod to the date of termination or when the judge explicitly terminates the alimony at a hearing later on.

Spousal support calculation in California

According to the law of California. the aim of awarding spousal support temporarily is to maintain the financial status quo as much as possible, It is at the discretion of a court to direct temporary alimony after reviewing the requirements of the party requesting the same as well as the ability of the other spouse to pay.

If there are dependent kids in a marriage, the parents can get an estimate of what the amount for temporary alimony may look like apart from the payments for child support. These are done according to stringent guidelines and by using the child support calculator available at the state’s department of child support.

The key aim of spousal support after the divorce gets finalized is to offer help to the supported spouse so that they can maintain a living standard almost same as the one they had while being married. A court in California will assess the degree to which the earning capacity of each spouse is adequate to continue the same marital living standard. While doing so, the court may consider the following factors:

  1. The degree to which the future or present earning ability of the supported spouse has got impaired due to their domestic responsibilities
  2. Any expenses or time needed by the supported spouse to get training or education to get a job or improve the chance of employability
  3. The kind of marketable skills needed by the supported spouse
  4. Potential job marketability for such skills

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Why Permanent Alimony is Favored by Many People

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Spousal support Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsAlthough alimony, which is also referred to as spousal support, is regarded by some as a dirty word, there are still many people who favor it. But there are several states that have rewritten their divorce laws so that permanent alimony can be scrapped.

For several decades in the past, it was usual that after a man and a woman got married, the wife stayed at home and took care of the family to help promote the career of her husband. It was a common practice for women to support their husbands, and when children were born, perform most of the activities related to their rearing. So, if there was a divorce, it is natural to understand why she was awarded permanent alimony. After all, all these years during the marriage, she never had an opportunity or time to develop her professional career.

To cut it short, even today, most of the couples make the emotional choice of having one of them to stay back at home with the kids. While doing so, one of them becomes financially dependent on the other spouse who is the breadwinner of the family. When a mom or a dad give up their professional career and decides to stay back at home to bring up their kids for 18 years, the ability or the opportunity to make a re-entry to the workforce becomes less. Moreover, they will not be able to earn the same kind of salary their spouses are earning.

Many think that these are some of the cases when a spouse should be awarded permanent alimony:

When a spouse unilaterally decides to end a long-term marriage

If the spouse who’s the breadwinner of the family decides to divorce unilaterally from a marriage that lasted for 15 years or more, permanent alimony should be awarded to the dependent spouse.

When the dependent spouse has to look after the kids

In case a dependent spouse has to take care of the kids all alone but fails to get employment and stands at a risk of a drastic change in the lifestyle, he or she should be awarded a permanent alimony.

When a spouse is at a risk of facing financial poverty

If the situation is such that a spouse is exposed to the threat of suffering from acute poverty as he or she lacks necessary working skills post-divorce, permanent alimony should be awarded to that spouse.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

How Is Legal Separation Different From A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsLegal separation is the formal process of confirming an actual separation of the parties, as opposed to filing for divorce.  Parties that chose legal separation do so for religious reasons, do not believe in divorce, or have concerns about medical insurance coverage, among other reasons.  If the parties proceed all the way to a final judgment in a legal separation case, they can obtain the same orders that they would have in a divorce case.  The biggest difference is that in the end, the parties are technically still married after a legal separation case and cannot get legally remarried.

Agreement for separation

An agreement on separation includes terms that are quite similar to those if the concerned couple was getting a divorce. This means there will be a distribution of their marital property, agreement on child visitation and custody if applicable. Not only this, the couple opting for a legal separation will also have to come to a decision on dividing any debts that were incurred by them after they got married.

Ideally, the above-mentioned terms should be binding in case the couple wants to get divorced. Moreover, both parties should hire their individual attorneys for negotiating all the details of the agreement on their legal separation. In case the spouses eventually make up their mind to go one step ahead and file for a divorce, it has been observed that the judge usually keeps the same terms as both the parties agreed to them earlier.

Differences between a legal separation and a divorce

Check out some of the following key differences between a divorce and a legal separation.


While the spouse continues with the legal married name in the case of a separation, a wife may revert back to her maiden name after the divorce comes throughout the divorce be.

Child support

The conditions related to child support are ascertained when the legal separation takes place. When a couple decides to go for a divorce after being legally separated, ideally, the same terms are followed that were mentioned in the document for legal separation.

Marital status

A couple is still married even though there is a legal separation going on. But when the divorce is finalized, the marriage ends.

Child visits

Visitation rights of the child are decided when the legal separation takes place. If a divorce comes through after the legal separation, most of the times, the same terms are followed as mentioned in the document of their legal separation.


The terms for alimony are ascertained during the legal separation. The conditions are typically kept same if the divorce gets finalized in the future.

Split of marital property

The couple agrees to the terms while going for a legal separation. When they do decide to finally divorce, the sane conditions that are mentioned in the document for legal separation are followed.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Modifying Spousal Support Orders

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County spousal support; California Divorce MediatorsThere can be a number of reasons why both the domestic partners and spouses may require changing order post judgment.  In case this situation arises, you must show that there have been a change in the circumstances after the partner or spousal support was delivered. It means that something of significance have changed from the time the partner or spousal support order was delivered.

There could be a number of reasons as to why a support order should be changed. It can be that the partner or spouse which was getting the support no longer requires it. It could be also that the person paying the support has suffered considerable drop in his or her income and cannot support the quantum of money required for support. It may be that the partner or spouse who gets the support does not make the effort to be self-supporting- and the partner or spouse can request the court to end support order dependent on this premise. There could also be the cause of the partner or spouse remarrying and thus the support should be ended.

In case the domestic partners or spouses can reach the agreement for new amount of partner or spousal support, it can be possible to write this up as a kind of stipulation or agreement. The document can then be given to judge for the requisite signature and make it the new court order. If both the domestic partners and spouses cannot reach an agreement on this change, the partner or spouse who wants the change should file motion with court requesting a modification of the partner or spousal’s support amount.

Good reasons to ask for new court orders as soon as possible

In case there is a considerable change in factors which the judge regards as important when considering partner or spousal support, you must act quickly so that the partner or spousal support order can mirror the changes. Many people frequently wait when it comes to change this supporting order as they believe that the income drop or job loss is temporary. Other causes include stress and worry and their spousal support worries take a backseat. It may also occur that they are in a situation like prison where it can be extremely hard to file the court papers. It may also be that they believe it will be easy for them to change court orders later when they are less stressed or have plenty of time.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Modification Of Alimony When Financial Circumstances Change

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsAlimony is the amount one spouse needs to pay the other after the two get separated. It is also known as spousal support. Alimony is usually paid when one spouse earns significantly more than the other.  If the paying spouse’s income increases post-divorce, should he/she pay more money as part of alimony?

Can alimony be increased?

The alimony amount cannot necessarily be increased after divorce simply because the spouse receiving the amount isn’t doing well enough in terms of finances.  Moreover, simply because the paying spouse gets a new job that pays him or her more or if he or she has suddenly inherited substantial assets does not mean the other spouse is entitled to more.  That’s because spousal support is meant to maintain the marital standard of living based on the financial circumstances that existed during the marriage, not after marriage.  Generally, the support can be modified downward if the receiving spouse begins earlier more income or the paying spouse loses his or her job or suffers a reduction in income through no fault of their own.

When does the alimony remain unchanged?

The decision to pay more alimony depends on the one paying the money and his financial condition. If the court finds that despite an improvement in financial condition, an individual cannot pay more than he/she is paying, the alimony will remain unchanged. If it is found that the receiver is not utilizing the money in an efficient manner, then also the alimony amount remains unchanged. In some cases, a spouse may demand more money for the children. The case will then fall under child care and not alimony. Also, if a spouse spends the alimony amount on doing something illegal, then not only will the amount stay the same but the spouse will also have to answer to a court of law.


Alimony is one of the most important factors that help individuals stay financially independent after a divorce. The amount of alimony paid by one spouse to the other depends on the financial condition of both of them. However, in some cases, the receiving spouse is entitled to receive more alimony that what was first decided. But there are also situations where the alimony remains unchanged despite the change in the financial situation of either of them.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Are Alimony Payments Tax Deductible?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsAlimony aka spousal support that is paid by one spouse in the form of financial support to the other for spousal maintenance. The purpose of spousal support is to financially help the other parent maintain a certain standard of living after divorce.

Since alimony payments are considered to be a form of income, it is tax deductible. However, there are many requirements without which tax cannot be deducted from alimony payments.

The paying spouse is entitled to tax deductions for payment of spousal support

The IRS allows the one who is paying for alimony to deduct such payments from his or her taxes.  The recipient must also show the payments as a source of income. Tax deductions help both spouses save money and the IRS too can keep a track of the alimony being paid. It helps as supporting evidence when disparities in alimony payments take place. In some cases, it also helps spouses maintain a good relationship with each other which is important when children are involved.

Issues regarding spousal support and taxes

There are certain requirements without which alimony taxes cannot be applied.

  1. During a divorce agreement, the alimony must be clearly mentioned. If nothing of this sort is mentioned in the agreement, then neither parent is responsible for paying any amount of money to the other parent.
  2. Couples usually have to live separately at the time of alimony payments.


Alimony is an important part of divorce and both the paying and receiving spouse should be aware of how taxes get deducted from alimony. It helps save money and protects spouses from doing anything illegal. Also, unfair alimony provisions are also prevented. Since, tax deductions mostly depend on the paying spouse, keeping a good relationship helps. Alimonies are important and it helps one spouse maintain almost the same amount of lifestyle as the other spouse.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Can Adultery Affect Alimony Under California Law?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Spousal support Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsCalifornia has a no-fault divorce law 

California was the first state in the 1970s to implement the concept of no-fault. This means that you can file for a divorce in two possible cases. Either, you state that your marriage has irretrievably broken down or your spousal partner is incurably insane. You won’t need to specify the exact details or prove them in court. Both partners also don’t need to arrive at a consensus regarding the common grounds for divorce. It is enough that one partner wants to end it.

Infidelity or adultery hasn’t been defined by law but most agree that when one partner has a sexual liaison with his/her lover without the consent of his spouse, he has committed a grave indiscretion. However, it can’t be a ground for divorce alone.

However, infidelity can have some impact on the alimony that the dependent or the poorer spouse can demand. Since California is a community property state, whatever property is acquired by the couple during the period of marriage, will be equally distributed among the partners. Both have equal rights, except on properties acquired through inheritance or received as a gift.

Hence, if the wronged partner can prove that the cheating partner has spent a certain portion of the joint income on his/her lover, a judge can accept the submission and order him/her to reimburse the amount that was spent on the other person, to his spouse.

Infidelity is not a punishable offense in California 

California courts can’t order a partner to pay a certain sum of money as compensation to the wronged partner because of his/her misconduct because that would mean that the court is punishing him/her for the “offense”. The soul ground for the alimony or the spousal support would be the financial need of the wronged or financially weaker partner. The court would try to ascertain that the spouse gets enough support so as to reasonably maintain his/her lifestyle that they had during the marriage. They may also look at the ability of the spouse to support themselves and their employability. The ability of the paying spouse to support would also be analyzed and brought under the scanner.

However, if the receiving spouse starts dating or cohabiting another person before the divorce is finalized, then according to Section 4343 of the California Family Code, the court may reduce or altogether withdraw the alimony as it sees that the financial dependency has decreased.

Frequent adultery or cheating may, however, have an impact on the custody rights of a person and may be a ground that leads him to lose his rights to keep his/her child.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

What Are Men’s Rights to Spousal Support in California?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Spousal support Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsSociety and the courts have traditionally always favored women in cases of divorce settlement. It is usually the woman who claims alimony from her spouse post-divorce. But in reality, this is not a fair method of determining who has to pay spousal support to whom. In a relationship the woman may be in a better financial position than the man and in such cases the woman may be be required to pay alimony to her ex-husband.

Men’s rights regarding alimony in California and factors considered while determining alimony amount

The divorce and spousal support laws in California are fair and unbiased and focuses on the financial position and strength of each spouse and not the gender of each spouse. California laws take into consideration the net assets and liabilities or debts of both spouses before determining who has to pay alimony and the amount payable.

Husbands who are getting divorced in the State of California enjoy full rights granted by the law to receive alimony or spousal support from the other party. Some factors that determine the amount of alimony that the husband will get from his wife are the husband’s income from his current job, his income earning capacity, his health and lifestyle, his nature towards his wife during the marriage – whether there were any signs of physical, mental or emotional abuse or domestic violence. All these factors are taken into consideration by the civil court before calculating the alimony payable by the wife to the husband and to make sure that the spousal support terms and conditions are fair, just and equitable.

Husbands also have the right to receive temporary or interim spousal support from their wives if they can prove their poor financial situation. The judge will consider factors such as the husband’s debts, income, and expenses, as well as the current financial burden on their wife and determine an alimony amount which the wife will have to pay to her husband throughout the course of the divorce proceedings to financially support and take care of him.

Short-term spousal support

If the marriage has lasted less than 10 years then the husband can claim short-term spousal support from his wife if he can prove his financial needs to the judge or family court. The same factors are taken into consideration in determining alimony.

Long-term spousal support

A marriage that has lasted more than 10 years is considered to be a long-term marriage in the state of California and hence the husband can claim a larger spousal support amount from the wife after a divorce. Again, the judge takes the same factors into consideration before determining the amount of spousal support payable to the husband.

The husband also has the right to enter into a mutual stipulation or agreement with his wife for the amount of spousal support payable without the interference of the court. But this is only if the husband and wife are still on good terms after the divorce and can cooperate and negotiate with each other by themselves or with the help of legal representatives without the need of external interference by the courts.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Understanding Termination of Alimony in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County spousal support; California Divorce MediatorsTermination of alimony for the spouse paying it means financial freedom. But requests for termination of alimony have to be pleaded in California Family Courts and are only granted after going through evidence and persuasive arguments. Requests by the paying spouse for terminating alimony are very common in divorce cases.

Short term marriages

Termination of alimony in short term marriages is extremely common and the process is quite simple. Generally speaking, the period of paying alimony in a short term marriage is half the length of the marriage. The shorter the marriage, the shorter is the period for which you have to pay alimony. But the exact duration will be determined by the court. The alimony agreement should clearly state the duration and the date of termination of the alimony.

Long term marriages

Termination of alimony in long term marriages can be quite difficult. If the court wishes, it can terminate the payment of alimony if the marriage has lasted for almost 10 years or more. But the spouse receiving the alimony always has the right to contest such a decision. If the court has decided to terminate the alimony after a certain date, the contesting spouse should approach the court before the said date and appeal for a continuation of the alimony.

In marriages that have been for a much longer duration than 10 years, alimony can still be terminated in certain cases. If the court is produced with persuasive arguments and evidences, it can terminate the payment of alimony. You need to prove that your spouse can maintain their lifestyle and standard of living on their own even after you stop paying alimony. It can prove to be quite difficult.

The court will take a close look to determine that the supported spouse can support themselves financially in every possible way. You will need to show that your spouse has gained a significant amount as income through employment of some kind. The court will make a decision based on the nature and extent of employment and not the income of your spouse.

If your spouse has gained a significant amount in inheritance or has obtained a separate estate, alimony will, in most likelihood, be terminated. But again, the court will determine if the estate guarantees that the spouse will have enough financial support without the alimony. Termination of alimony is not that simple and is granted after much consideration.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Temporary Spousal Support in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsThe issue of spousal support can result in bitter contests in a divorce. The spouse having a higher income would not want to pay it and the spouse with a lower income or no income will insist on receiving it. In California Family Code, alimony is known as spousal support.

Temporary spousal support can be paid by one spouse to the other when their divorce case has been filed but a ruling is still pending. The amount to be paid should be sufficient to support the other spouse completely till a divorce is granted and the final amount of alimony is determined. The ability of one spouse to pay the amount of temporary alimony is also taken into consideration.

Purpose of temporary alimony

According to California spousal support laws, temporary spousal support is generally paid to maintain the status quo of the spouse. But this can prove to be quite difficult financially for the spouse paying the support. Temporary alimony is paid twice every month – on the first and 15th of every month.

To make matters a little bit easier, the court takes into consideration the net disposable income of each spouse. They then look at the unnecessary expenditures that each spouse can cut back on. The court will advise the alimony paying spouse to pay only for the essential needs of the requesting spouse and not for everything else.

Calculating temporary alimony

The amount of temporary alimony to be paid is determined the same way as child support.  If child support is being paid, the amount of alimony will be less and vice versa. The court uses the software programs X-spouse or Dissomaster or something similar to calculate the amount of temporary alimony to be paid.

The court will consider the income of the past one year of both the spouses before calculating the amount to be paid in temporary alimony. But this is not true for everyone. If any one or both the spouses are self employed, the court will go longer back than that. But the court will, most likely, never consider a period of income shorter than one year.

California alimony procedures and laws need to be considered carefully before filing for a divorce. You should get in touch with an experienced attorney for consultation.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation