If you are considering a divorce, you may have questions about whether or not you will have to pay or get to receive alimony. You may also have some preconceived notions about what you think you can expect. Below, we have identified three common myths about alimony.
Myth #1: The amount of alimony is determined by a computer program.
Many couples assume that they can simply plug a few numbers into a computer or calculator and come up with the answer to their question about how much alimony is needed in a particular case. However, this is not how spousal support is calculated. In order to come up with an appropriate alimony award, an attorney must conduct an exhaustive examination of several factors outlined in Family Code section 4320, including but not limited to:
- Each spouse’s employment and income
- The supported spouse’s future earning capacity
- The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the education, career position, license, or training of the supporting party
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- The balance of the hardships of each party
Weighing these factors is not something that can be accomplished by a calculator or computer program; it requires the careful consideration of someone who is well versed in family law.
Myth #2: After 10 years of marriage, alimony is guaranteed for life.
This is also untrue. As discussed in myth #1, alimony is determined based on a wide variety of factors. Just because a couple has been married longer than 10 years does not mean that one spouse is required to support the other for the rest of his or her life. While Family Code section 4336 states that the court retains jurisdiction over matters of spousal support in marriages lasting longer than 10 years, there is no guarantee that alimony will be ordered in a given case. Furthermore, if the supported spouse makes no effort to become self-supporting while they are receiving alimony, they may have a future application for continuing support denied.
Myth #3: Alimony is an absolute right.
Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not mandatory in divorce proceedings. In fact, courts have the discretion to deny alimony altogether. Their decision is based on a complex evaluation of numerous factors outlined in Family Code section 4320. Note too that, as mentioned above, the courts may use any failure to become self-supporting as a basis for modifying or terminating alimony – in other words, the state of California expects that people should be able to support themselves. So while alimony may be necessary in some cases, it may not be ordered in many others when the courts feel that each spouse is in a position to be self-supporting.
Have further questions about alimony? Turn to the San Diego Family Law Experts® at Moore, Schulman & Moore, APC. Schedule a consultation when you call (858) 492-7968.