People often assume that because California is a “community property” state, each spouse in a divorce will walks away with half of their marital assets. This can result in a considerable change in a person’s standard of living – especially if they have a lower income or don’t have their own income.
That’s where alimony, or spousal support, can help make things fairer. Most alimony is temporary and awarded to give a spouse who can’t support themselves in the aftermath of divorce some time to obtain the education, skills and experience they need. However, it can also be awarded in exchange for other martial assets, particularly in an uncontested divorce scenario.
Particularly if you’re forced to litigate your divorce, you may be wondering – especially if you are divorcing someone whose income largely paid for a very comfortable standard of living – do you only have a right to enough spousal support to “get buy,” or do you have a right to maintain your current standard of living?
What factors can a judge consider?
It depends. Under California law, one of the factors that judges can take into consideration when determining spousal support is the “extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.” Of course, that’s just one factor. They’ll also consider the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, their marketable skills and the “extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.”
Say you left college and took a job to support the two of you while your spouse went through medical school. Then you left the workplace and spent the next couple of decades raising your children instead of finishing college while your spouse built up a lucrative practice and published a number of books that brought in considerable income.
Making a strong case takes knowledge and preparation
Your situation doesn’t have to be that clear-cut to seek spousal support that would help you maintain your marital standard of living. Further, the standard of living you hope to maintain may not be extravagant. You may just want to be able to afford a home of your own – no easy accomplishment in nearly any part of California.
It’s important to have realistic expectations when seeking spousal support, either via negotiation, mediation or litigation. Having experienced legal guidance can make all the difference when seeking truly fair divorce settlement terms.