Kevin Qualls Family Law
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What courts consider when determining spousal support

As this blog has mentioned on previous occasions, during a divorce or legal separation in California, one party may be ordered to pay spousal support, which is a term people often use interchangeably with alimony, to the other party.

Whether to require these payments, and in what amount, is ultimately a question that is within the discretion of the family law court hearing the case. However, under California law, courts are expected to consider a rather lengthy list of factors before deciding whether to award spousal support and, for that matter, in what amount to award it.

Many of these factors are written in language that has specific legal connotations, and many of the factors have also been the subject of court decisions interpreting what they mean. As such, specific questions about what a judge will or will not consider would best be referred to an experienced family law attorney who, for Orange County residents, works locally and thus has familiarity with the local court systems.

However, a court is going to look first at whether and to what extent a spouse might need spousal support. For example, the court may ask whether a spouse has the potential to go find a job through which he can support himself and, if he does not, whether his shortfall in marketable skills is the result of sacrifices he made during the marriage to support the other party's career.

Against a party's need, the court will balance whether and to what extent the other spouse can pay spousal report. When deciding this, the court will look at the income and expenses of the parties, as well as what property and debts they are retaining following the divorce or separation.

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