When one spouse earns more money than the other, the higher-earning spouse may have to pay the lesser-earning spouse alimony or spousal support if the couple gets divorced. The purpose of alimony is to provide a spouse that may have been dependent on their spouse’s income or out of the work force for many years (e.g., a stay-at-home parent), the opportunity to acquire the tools necessary to support themselves now that they are no longer married.
Factors used to evaluate alimony in California
The amount of spousal support awarded and the duration of payments for will depend on several factors, as considered by the court. Some of these factors include:
- Education, job skills, and work skills of receiving spouse
- Ages and health of both spouses
- Length of the marriage (longer marriages warrant more spousal support)
- Present and future earning capacity of receiving spouse
The impact of domestic violence on alimony in California
Tragically, many California spouses have suffered physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse in their marriages. A domestic violence conviction can impact the convicted spouse’s ability to receive spousal support from the injured spouse.
- Under the California Family Code, spouses convicted of a domestic violence felony cannot receive alimony.
- Under the California Family Code, spouses convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor in the five years prior to the date the petition for dissolution was filed will have a rebuttable presumption against them receiving alimony.
As for the award itself, judges will not award spousal support to punish the abusive spouse for their actions during the marriage. However, courts may consider how domestic violence prevented the abused spouse from supporting themselves (e.g., an abusive spouse may have used violence to stop their spouse from working).
If domestic violence has played a role in your marriage, consider speaking to an attorney about your divorce. Your attorney can protect your interests throughout the divorce process and give you a realistic picture of what to expect.