When one spouse is earning a significantly higher income than the other, particularly if the couple was married for a long time, courts may order that spouse to pay the lesser-earning spouse spousal support in the event of a divorce. California courts may award the following:
- Temporary spousal support: Payments will last for the duration of the divorce proceedings.
- Long-term support: Support ordered after the divorce has been finalized.
The court will then determine how long spousal support payments should continue and how much the higher-earning spouse will have to pay each month. Generally, the court will award spousal support for half the length of the marriage if the marriage lasted for less than 10 years. For marriages that lasted longer than 10 years, there is no specified duration for spousal support. The court can decide to award spousal it for as long as it deems necessary, based on several factors (incomes, earning capacity, age and health, etc.).
Domestic violence may be considered when determining spousal support
Unfortunately, many marital relationships involve domestic violence. In California, a domestic violence conviction may impact whether spousal support is awarded.
Generally, if the payee spouse (spouse who would be receiving the spousal support) is convicted of domestic violence against the payer spouse (spouse who would be paying the spousal support) within five years prior to the divorce proceeding, there is a rebuttable presumption that the payee spouse will not receive spousal support.
This means that the payee spouse with the domestic violence conviction must present evidence that rebuts this presumption. For example, the payee spouse may present evidence that the payer spouse was also convicted of domestic violence against the payee. In such cases, the court may decide to award spousal support.
If you are concerned about domestic violence impacting the payment of spousal support in your divorce, consider speaking to a family law attorney in your area.