Family Law Lawyer in Sacramento, CA
Call Now!

Understanding Alimony: How it Works and Why it Matters

Alimony is commonly referred to as “spousal support,” and it is a complex and frequently misunderstood aspect of divorce law. Spousal support involves a financial arrangement where one spouse is legally obliged to financially support the other post-divorce.

Spousal support helps ensure that neither experiences an unfair economic hardship because of the marriage dissolution.

This blog aims to demystify the intricacies of alimony, explaining the factors that influence it.

Eligibility Criteria for Alimony

No one is automatically entitled to alimony upon divorce. The courts consider a myriad of factors to decide whether a spouse needs financial support.

Factors that influence spousal support include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties involved
  • The income and earning potential of both spouses
  • The standard of living established during the marriage

In essence, the court wants to make sure the divorce does not unfairly disadvantage a spouse. For instance, many spouses have sacrificed career advancement for the sake of the marriage, or they may not be able to sustain the same quality of life post-divorce.

Types of Alimony

California has various types of spousal support, each with its own purpose and duration.

Temporary alimony, for example, takes place during the divorce proceedings. It is intended to maintain the status quo until a final order is in place.

Permanent alimony, however, provides long-term financial support to a spouse. This spousal support is less common. It is usually reserved for long marriages where one spouse may be unable to achieve financial independence.

Rehabilitative alimony is designed to support a spouse for a specific period. This financial help gives them the time and resources to gain employment skills or education and eventually become self-sufficient. This spousal support usually lasts for the time it will take for the spouse to reach their earning potential.

Lump-sum alimony is a single, large payment. In this form, the spousal support comes all at once, and there is no need for regular payments.

Calculating Alimony Payments

When determining alimony payments, courts take a deep dive into both spouse’s financial details. This process includes examining incomes, potential earning capacity, and the financial needs of each party.

Courts use various methods used to calculate alimony. These methods range from simple formulas that take a percentage of the payer's income to more complex calculations that consider the recipient's expenses. The goal is to arrive at a fair amount that allows both parties to live reasonably close to the lifestyle they had during the marriage.

Life is unpredictable, and significant changes can make the original alimony agreement impractical or unjust. In such cases, you can request an alimony modification. If a party experiences a substantial change in financial circumstances, such as a job loss, a significant increase in income, or changes in health status, they can ask the court to adjust the alimony amount.

The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates works hard to make sure alimony does not put an unfair financial burden on the payor, and it does not leave the recipient destitute. Fairness is our goal. We are ready to help, so contact us online or call our office at (916) 299-3936.