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How to determine spousal support in California

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Divorce |

When a married couple decides to part ways, resolutions to various legal matters need to happen, and one of the key issues is spousal support. Spousal support is where one spouse must provide financial assistance to the other after separation or divorce.

California uses specific guidelines outlined in state law to determine spousal support.

Determining spousal support

Spousal support in California depends on the following factors:

1. Income and earning capacity. The income and earning capacity of each spouse are important considerations. The court assesses their respective incomes, including wages, investments and any other sources of financial support. The court also examines their ability to gain employment and earn income in the future.

2. Standard of living. Maintaining the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage is another key factor. The court aims to ensure that the supported spouse can continue living at a similar economic level as during the marriage.

3. Contributions to the marriage. The court evaluates the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, both financial and non-financial. This includes taking care of the home, raising children or supporting the other spouse’s education or career.

4. Health and age. The state considers the health and age of both spouses when determining spousal support. Older spouses or those in poor health may require more financial assistance.

5. Custody arrangements. If there are children, the court takes into account child custody arrangements. The custodial parent may require additional support to ensure the children’s well-being.

California is a no-fault divorce state. Marital misconduct, such as infidelity, is generally not considered when determining spousal support.

Duration of support

In California, the duration of spousal support varies depending on the length of the marriage. For short-term marriages (less than 10 years), support typically lasts for half the length of the marriage. For long-term marriages (10 years or more), there is no specific end date set, and support may continue until the court modifies or terminates it.


Although it takes at least six months to get a divorce in California, spousal support is often determined after many other decisions. Understanding the factors involved can help you receive a fair and equitable spousal support agreement.