How Is Divorce Spousal Support Awarded?

During the divorce process, there’s a variety of issues that the spouses will either negotiate in mediation sessions, or argue for in a court setting. Among those issues is spousal support, also known as alimony. This is a type of financial support paid by one spouse to another, with the purpose of allowing the recipient spouse to maintain a relatively similar (or at least stable) standard of living after the divorce is finalized.

What do you need to know about alimony, and how is alimony support awarded in San Francisco, CA? Here’s an overview of the most important information to take into consideration when working through your divorce.

Determining alimony arrangements

First, it should be noted that there is not a single, flat-fee schedule planned out for alimony like other forms of support. Instead, the amount a paying spouse will pay to a recipient spouse will hinge on a variety of factors.

The most important of these factors is each spouse’s income level. If their income level is equal, it’s not as likely there will be a need for spousal support. But if there’s a significant imbalance in income, and if one of the spouses was the major breadwinner for the family, then a judge may award alimony as a means of somewhat correcting that income disparity.

The duration of the marriage will also be an important factor in determining the amount and type of alimony awarded. The longer the marriage, the higher the alimony payments are likely to be. This is especially true for people who have been married for many years and are either at or approaching retirement age. It is unlikely for people of this age to be able to significantly increase their earning capacity, so a more permanent alimony arrangement at a higher amount is more likely to be awarded.

While older people are not as easily capable of increasing their earning capacity or gaining the training necessary for long-term improvement in their earning prospects, younger people do frequently have this ability. While they might still be able to get a higher amount of alimony (depending on other factors in their case), their alimony arrangement might only last as long as it takes them to get the training or education they need to increase their earning capacity to the point where they can be self-sufficient and maintain a certain standard of living. There are various types of alimony arrangements designed to support people through their education and job searches that will come to an end when the recipient is able to afford their necessities.

Finally, it’s important to note that alimony is a different form of support than child support. Child support is an inherent right of the child—it is not meant to compensate a spouse. Child support will always be awarded in divorces involving minor children, but spousal support might not be. Child support payments will always take priority over spousal support payments.

For more information about how divorce spousal support is calculated in San Francisco, CA, reach out to the team at Medina & Company Consulting, Inc. today.