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Understanding alimony laws in California

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2017 | Blog

If you are thinking about divorce, you might be wondering if you will receive alimony as part of your settlement. In California, you and you husband can come to an agreement about alimony payments outside of the court or you can petition the court to make it part of the divorce decree. The main reason why courts grant alimony is so that one spouse does not suffer an undue hardship as a result of divorce. In other words, if you are not earning income, or earning an income substantially lower that your husbands, the court might award you alimony payments.

The amount of alimony you receive typically depends on your and your husband’s specific circumstances. You might receive a completely different amount than another divorcee you know, and for a different amount of time. Understanding the basics of California alimony laws will help you know what to expect from your divorce settlement.


When you petition a court for alimony, it will take certain factors into consideration. For example, the court will examine your and your spouse’s age, physical and mental condition, and financial state. It will also look at your ability to earn a reasonable living as well as you husband’s earning potential and his ability to pay alimony. In addition, the court will factor in your standard of living during your marriage and the length of the marriage.

5 types of alimony

In California, like some other states, there are different kinds of alimony. The kind of alimony you receive will depend on why you need it. For example, a court might order your husband to pay you temporary alimony during your separation while you wait for the court to finalize the divorce. A judge might order rehabilitative alimony which means your husband has to make payments until you can sufficiently support yourself. Other kinds of alimony include permanent, reimbursement and lump-sum. Your attorney can help you determine which type of spousal support is best for your particular situation.


Unlike child support, alimony can be more difficult to enforce. If your husband stops making payments, your only legal option is to take him to court in a contempt proceeding. Unfortunately, this will end up costing you money and is not guaranteed that he will actually continue making the payments.

If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand how California law works when it comes to property division, child support and alimony. Your attorney will be able to help you through the process so that you can get a fair divorce settlement.