California helps divorcing individuals move forward financially by ordering spousal support in certain situations. Typically, so-called alimony payments have an expiration date after which the person receiving support must survive on independent income.

Whether you or your spouse stayed home to raise children, lost a job or earn significantly more money than your soon-to-be ex-partner, read on to learn more about California spousal support.

How the state calculates alimony

If you and your spouse stayed together for 10 years or less, the length of spousal support ordered is typically about half the length of the marriage. For example, if your marriage lasted eight years, one partner may receive four years of spousal support. This provides the necessary funding and support for that person to seek job training or a degree.

Marriages that exceed 10 years will likely result in a lengthier term for alimony.

Temporary support guidelines (for support provided only during the divorce process) vary by county. Sacramento County typically orders temporary support of 40% of the higher earning spouse’s net income, minus half the other spouse’s income and the cost of court-ordered child support.

Permanent spousal support is paid after the entry of Judgment and the amount is based on factors such as the following:

  • Current and future projected earnings of both parties
  • Age and health status of both parties
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • Whether abuse or domestic violence occurred
  • Each person’s financial and nonfinancial contributions to the marriage, such as child care
  • Each person’s education and ability to earn a living
  • The duration of the marriage

How to request spousal support

You initially request alimony in your California divorce via the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or in the Response. To obtain an order for support, file Form FL-300, Request for Order and Form FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration, with the clerk at your local court and pay the associated fee. The clerk will provide a court date. You must serve your spouse with court papers notifying him or her of the hearing date at least 16 court days in advance and file Proof of Service paperwork with the court.

Bring all requested financial documentation to the hearing. The judge will issue a legally binding determination about support based on the information that each party provides.