Temporary and permanent spousal support in California are very different – but here’s what you need to know about each before you ask for an alimony order in your divorce case.
Asking for Temporary vs. Permanent Spousal Support in California
Under California law, you have the right to ask for spousal support as soon as you begin your case. Either spouse can ask for it, regardless of who initiated the divorce.
Temporary spousal support provides you with support while your divorce is going on. A judge won’t put in a permanent support order until he or she issues you your divorce agree.
Temporary Spousal Support
Temporary alimony is a term that refers to a temporary order of spousal support that’s only good during the time you’re actively going through your divorce (this is known legally as pendente lite support). This type of order ends when a judge issues a final decree that orders – or doesn’t order – further spousal support.
Duration of Spousal Support After Your Divorce
You may receive spousal support for a certain period of time after your divorce, or you may receive it until one of you dies (except if you remarry or something else happens that changes your or your ex’s circumstances dramatically).
How Long Does “Permanent” Spousal Support Last?
A judge can order spousal support to last for months or years. Generally, the court looks at both spouses’ financial situations and how long it would take for the supported spouse to get back on his or her feet and provide for him- or herself at a reasonable standard of living. Judges look at a lot of factors when they’re figuring out how long temporary spousal support should last, including:
- Both spouses’ assets (including separate property)
- Both spouses’ debts
- Both spouses’ financial needs according to the marital standard of living they established
- How extensively the supported spouse contributed to the paying spouse’s education, training, career or licensure in his or her field
- How extensively the supported spouse’s earning capacity is lowered because he or she was unemployed during the marriage
- How long it would take for the supported spouse to acquire the skills, education or training necessary to get a job, as well as how much it would cost
- The age and health of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The supported spouse’s ability to work outside the home without derailing his or her dependent children’s lives
- The supported spouse’s marketable skills, and whether he or she is likely to be able to get a job
Permanent spousal support usually isn’t truly permanent. For most short-term marriages (those that lasted under 10 years), permanent alimony doesn’t typically last more than half the length of the marriage. If you were married for 5 years, you probably shouldn’t expect to receive alimony for longer than about 2 years and 6 months. And even if a judge doesn’t put a time limit on your spousal support, some things can change the amount of alimony you receive or pay.
For example, if the supported spouse remarries, the paying spouse’s obligation to support him or her usually ends (unless the divorce settlement agreement says otherwise). In some cases, if the supported spouse lives with someone – a romantic partner or a roommate – the paying spouse can petition the court to lower or stop spousal support payments. Finally, if the paying spouse can show the court that his or her circumstances have changed drastically (such as the loss of a job), he or she may be able to lower or stop spousal support payments.
In most cases, the paying or supported spouse must go to court and ask for an official order that changes the spousal support payment requirements. The paying spouse can’t just stop paying – there can be serious legal consequences for doing something like that.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer to Learn More About Temporary vs. Permanent Spousal Support in California?
We’ll be more than happy to explain temporary vs. permanent spousal support in California. Just call us at (209) 989-4425 or get in touch with us online to talk to a lawyer who can help today. We’ll help you with every aspect of your divorce, from child custody and child support to property division.