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How are alimony payments determined?

La Habra, CA |

I am contemplating divorcing my wife . I am researching what I will be going through and how to protect myself...

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Have a consultation with a good family law attorney. That is the best way to educate yourself.

    Michael is in San Jose, California and can be reached at 408-295-4232 or at schwerin@ix.netcom.com. Consultation fees, rates and retainers vary based on need and ability to pay.


  2. Do you often study up on surgery to attempt to see if you can do it yourself? Leave it in the hands of the professionals and hire an attorney. The amount and length of alimony may decide your standard of living for a long time, maybe life. Why not let a trained attorney handle it?

    Legal disclaimer: In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.


  3. There are two different types of spousal support in california, temporary and permanent or long term spousal support. For temporary spousal support, the court typically uses a computer program to calculate support. In long term or permanent spousal support, the court must look at all of the factors in family code section 4320 inlcuding standard of living and the need and ability to pay. It is importatnt that you speak to a experienced family law attorney regarding these differences and what you may pay.


  4. Temporary spousal support payments are determined using a program such as Dissomaster. Because of the high volume of cases and the need to get them through the system, the courts use a computer program to determine a support amount on a temporary basis. Spousal support is based upon your wife’s need and your ability to pay. It is income driven, not expense driven.

    Your question on a permanent basis revolves around Family Code 4320. There are a number of factors a court should consider:

    (a) 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:
    (1) 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.
    (2) 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.
    (b) 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.
    (c) 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.
    (d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living
    established during the marriage.
    (e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property,
    of each party.
    (f) The duration of the marriage.
    (g) 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.
    (h) The age and health of the parties.
    (i) Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as
    defined in Section 6211, between the parties, 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.
    (j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
    (k) The balance of the hardships to each party.
    (l) 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.
    (m) 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 4325.
    (n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

    I am a lawyer but I am not your lawyer. I am only offering general advice that is not specific to your case. For you to get advice you should consult and retain a lawyer. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.


  5. You are smart to be educating yourself about the process. Read and continue to do that. Preparation for a divorce is critical. But at some point you have to consult with an experienced family law attorney. To answer your question, temporary alimony is generally determined by a computer program (generally called dissomaster or x-spouse). You input certain factors and the program tells you what temporary support should be. The program is not the be all, end all but it weight heavily in the Judge's mind. At trial, Family Code 4320 controls - no computer programs allowed. I have placed below a link to our Orange County divorce blog's alimony section that will give you some insight to most of these questions. At the end of the day though, consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer is a must because you can only learn so much without actually discussing the facts of your case and having a dialogue with one.

    Anytime a question refers to a document, whether or not filed with the court, a complete answer cannot be provided until the document is reviewed. Furthermore, nothing contained in this answer should be considered legal advice. Legal advice can only be given during a formal consultation. Our law firm offers a free consultation to prospective clients who have divorce and family law questions. Contact us by telephone or email and we can give you a more detailed answer to your question.

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