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How is spousal support calculated?

As we have discussed previously on this blog, divorce is not only emotionally grueling, but can also be a financially devastating one, too, when not handled properly. This can be especially true for those who have foregone a career in order to raise a family and keep the family households. For these individuals, marriage dissolution can mean the cessation of extensive financial support, which can feel extremely unfair.

This is why California allows individuals to seek spousal support. This support is meant to provide an individual with a comparable standard of living that he or she enjoyed pre-divorce. Although the parties can come to an agreement with regard to how much alimony should be paid, many times these matters are heard and determined by a judge.

When considering the amount of spousal support to award to an individual, a judge will consider many factors. Perhaps chief amongst these factors is the earning capacity of the spouse who is seeking support, as well as the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage. Here, the court will look at the individual's marketable job skills, the market for those with those skills, whether additional education or training is needed to become more marketable, and how taking time off from work to care for the family stunted his or her career. In conjunction with this, a judge will also consider the length of the marriage, as well as whether there was any domestic violence in the relationship.

Depending on which side of the dispute a person falls, alimony can spell financial security or financial hardship. Sometimes the court is able to find a balance between the parties, yet, life changes can quickly shift the balance. This is why it is best to not only put forth strong arguments to bolster one's position during the initial spousal support determination, but also to illuminate when and why spousal support modification is justified.

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