If you’re headed toward divorce, you probably have questions about spousal support. Is it automatic in all California divorces? How long does it last? Under what circumstances is it awarded? To help you get a better understanding of how spousal support works in the state, we provided a list of frequently asked questions.
If you have further questions, we invite you to contact our firm to schedule a case evaluation. We would be happy to help!
1. What is spousal support?
Spousal support, called “alimony” in some states, is money that a higher-earning spouse pays to financially support a lower-earning spouse during and after a legal separation or divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure the lower-earning spouse doesn’t become penniless because of the divorce and to help him or her become self-supporting.
2. Is spousal support awarded in all California divorces?
No, it is not guaranteed, nor is it automatic. A couple can agree on spousal support or if they do not agree, a judge will decide based on a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage, the age, and health of both spouses, one spouse’s need for it, and the other spouse’s financial ability to pay it.
3. How long does spousal support last?
If spousal support is awarded, it’s usually awarded for one-half the length the marriage unless the couple’s marriage lasted longer than 10 years. If the couple’s marriage lasted more than 10 years, the judge may establish spousal support without an end date. This does not mean that it can’t be terminated at some future date, just that it could be set without an expiration date initially.
Spousal support usually ends when: 1) a judge or court order says it ends, 2) one of the spouses die, or 3) the person receiving support remarries.
4. Is spousal support still tax-deductible?
For decades, spousal support was tax-deductible for the paying spouse and counted as taxable income for the receiving spouse, but on January 1, 2019, all of that changed. For legal separations and divorce agreements executed on or after January 1, 2019, it is no longer tax-deductible for the paying spouse and it is not taxable for the receiving spouse.
We hope this information has helped answer some of your questions about spousal support in California. To learn more, contact our firm today for a case evaluation with an Orange County divorce lawyer.