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Spousal Support

Spousal support can be a complicated and often sensitive part of a divorce case. If you need support, we believe you deserve swift action to get the right orders in place. Spousal support is an important piece of the puzzle so your day-to-day needs are met and you gain the security you need to build a new life. If you are a support payor, we believe your interests must be met so you do not over pay and can meet your day-to-day needs. We invite you to take some time to review a few of the basics below about spousal support.

What is spousal support? Is it the same as alimony?

Spousal support (also known as partner support for registered domestic partners) is the term for alimony in California. Spousal support is money that one spouse pays to help support the other after the filing of a dissolution or legal separation. Usually, the spouse receiving such support will pay federal and state income taxes on it, and the one making such payments will be entitled to a tax deduction.


To determine the amount of spousal support, the judge will consider such factors as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the age, health, earning capacity and job histories of both individuals. If the marriage lasted less than 10 years, it is unlikely that a judge will order spousal support for longer than half the length of the marriage.

What happens if neither spouse needs support

Perhaps neither of you needs spousal support. Since circumstances can change (you could become ill, for example, or lose your job), we may ask the judge to reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support in the future. (The judge will be more likely to do this if your marriage lasted 10 years or close to it.) This will leave the door open so you can ask for such support at a later time. Under certain circumstances, you or your spouse may go back to court and ask the judge to change the amount of support. The judge also can order a wage assignment directing a spouse’s employer to pay spousal support.