When parties divorce, spousal support is a concern to both the payor of support and the receiving spouse.

As with all issues relating to divorce, spousal support can be determined either in court or outside of court, using Mediation, Collaborative or Negotiated approaches.

The amount of spousal support a party receives or pays during the period of time between separation and finalizing your divorce is considered temporary support. This type of spousal support is ordered to enable the spouse who earns less income to maintain the “status quo” in terms of lifestyle and also allows this party to gain his or her financial footing after separation.  It is often calculated using the same computer program as child support, but it is appropriate to deviate from the program as well, depending on the facts of the case.  

Long-term or permanent spousal support can be a misnomer.  This type of support usually begins on or around the entry of judgment in the case and continues (if warranted) for various periods of time.  One factor that affects the length of support is whether the marriage was short term (i.e. less than 10 years).  If this is the case, spousal support might last a certain number of years (usually about one half of the length of the marriage), and then terminate. A long term marriage is considered a marriage that is 10 years or longer in duration.  To determine long-term support, the court will consider the various factors contained in California Family Code Section 4320. There is often no set date as to the termination of spousal support in a long term marriage, though spousal support can be set at zero. Parties can also decide on a termination date.

A party that receives spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is obligated to seek employment and to become self-supporting- with a few narrow exceptions.   Unless agreed otherwise during settlement, spousal support may be modified after the divorce is final, if the circumstances change.