Will I Get Alimony in my California Divorce?

Will I Get Alimony in my California Divorce?

Alimony, otherwise known as spousal support or maintenance, may be awarded as part of a California divorce case on either a temporary or permanent basis. In most cases, a California court will require the higher-earning spouse to pay alimony to the lower-earning spouse, enabling the latter to maintain the same lifestyle that he or she became accustomed to during the marriage.

If you are currently at the beginning of divorce proceedings, you may be entitled to alimony under California law. Our experienced divorce and family law attorneys at Razai & Nefulda may be able to assist you with your case and help you to obtain the spousal support you need and deserve.

Types of Alimony Available Under California Law

Several types of alimony exist under California law. A divorced spouse may also be eligible to receive more than one type of alimony, including the following:

  • Alimony pendente lite (i.e. temporary alimony paid while a divorce case is pending)
  • Long-term alimony

Length of Alimony

The duration of alimony in the State of California is often directly dependent upon the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted for less than 10 years, a California court will not usually order spousal support for more than half the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted for 10 or more years, a California court typically will not set an alimony termination date at the time the spouses divorce. However, keep in mind that Courts are vested with wide discretion when it comes to the issues of spousal support and the conditions (including length of time) it may be paid as no two cases are alike.

Regardless of the length of marriage, most courts may enter orders that the party receiving spousal support make reasonable and good faith efforts to become self-supporting consistent with the legislative requirements under California Family Code Section 4320, but that also depends on the facts of each case.


In determining the type, amount, and duration of alimony, California courts typically consider the following non-exhaustive list of factors:

  • The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
    • The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
    • The extent to which the supported party’s present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
  • The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
  • The age and health of the parties.
  • Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party’s child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
  • The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
  • The balance of the hardships to each party.
  • The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court’s discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
  • The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.
  • Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

A California court’s alimony decisions may also be modified upon request by either spouse, based upon a material change in circumstances.

Contact an Orange County, California Family Law Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

Any divorce proceeding can be a stressful experience for everyone involved. Our experienced Orange County family law attorneys can help to lessen your burden by representing you throughout your case and advocating for your interests and available support benefits.

You can contact the experienced Orange County, California family law attorneys at Razai & Nefulda, APC by calling 714-663-9900 or 310-858-8181 or contact us online.