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Alimony and Spousal Support

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When a couple separates, one of the parties may need help paying the bills until the divorce or dissolution is final. This is called temporary spousal support or temporary partner support, and is often referred to as “alimony.” If the parties cannot agree how to pay their joint bills, one party may ask for a court hearing so that the judge can decide how it is to be done. The court can then issue an order, usually called a “temporary spousal support order” or a “temporary partner support order,” which will require one party to pay money to the other party while the case is pending.

When the judge makes a final order in the divorce, the judge may order payment of alimony. According to the California Family Code, the judge must consider the following factors:

  • The length of the marriage or domestic partnership
  • What each person needs
  • What each person pays or can pay (including earnings and earning capacity)
  • Whether having a job would make it too hard to take care of any children
  • The age and health of both people
  • Debts and property
  • Whether a spouse or domestic partner helped the other get an education, training, career, or professional license
  • Whether there was domestic violence in the marriage or domestic partnership
  • Whether a spouse’s or domestic partner’s career was affected by unemployment, or by taking care of the children or home
  • The tax impact of spousal support.

Calculating spousal or domestic partner support, and the related tax issues, are difficult and complex issues.