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How California Courts Calculate Spousal Support

by Steve Fritsch on May 14, 2014

If you are planning a divorce in California, regardless of whether you are a likely recipient or provider of spousal support, you should be aware of the basics of how California courts calculate spousal support. There are two types of spousal support, in California: temporary and permanent. Temporary support is payment to the lower-earning spouse during the divorce proceedings. Once the proceedings are complete, any spousal support is considered permanent. The goal of permanent spousal support is to position the lower-earning spouse at or as close as possible to the marital standard of living.

How Do Courts Determine the Amount of Temporary Spousal Support?

Courts will use one of a number of software programs. The principal criterion is the spouses’ income and income potential. The programsspousal-support tend to arrive at roughly the same figure. You are more likely to get a better result if you use a qualified family attorney who understands the ways in which each program calculates temporary spousal support.

How Do Courts Determine the Amount of Permanent Spousal Support?

Provision 4320 of the Family Code guides the court in determining the amount of permanent spousal support. Provision 4320 stipulates many criteria. The main ones are:

  • The marketability of the recipient spouse’s skills, the cost of maintaining or upgrading those skills, as necessary.
  • Has unemployment, for the purposes of doing domestic duties, impaired the recipient spouse’s employability?
  • Has the recipient spouse sacrificed, financially or otherwise, to help the supporting spouse acquire professional credentials or education?
  • The ability of the recipient spouse to work outside the home without interfering with the interests of dependents.
  • The assets and liabilities of each spouse.
  • The age and health of each spouse.
  • The length of the marriage.

You can take two steps to determine whether the amount of spousal support, you are paying or receiving, is fair:

  1. You can get a rough idea by using a spousal support calculator.
  2. You can get a detailed assessment by consulting an experienced family law attorney.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawkcc

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