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Abandoning the home: What you need to know about divorce

Coming from Mexico, you're probably familiar with what happens when people abandon their homes and family for a divorce. Under Mexican law, a man who leaves his wife may be liable for her income for the rest of her life, even though he no longer wants to stay married.

While that does provide a spouse with everything she needs to continue living her current lifestyle, that isn't how the laws work in America. In California, which is a no-fault divorce state, alimony isn't guaranteed. If someone decides to file for a divorce, that person many not end up paying his or her spouse anything.

Even if someone is accountable for alimony, Californian law doesn't guarantee a lifelong payment scheme. Instead, it's more common to see alimony used as a buffer for one spouse who needs extra support while he or she gets back on his or her feet.

What does California consider before awarding alimony?

The judge considers a number of factors including how long a couple stayed married, the ability of the paying spouse to take care of oneself while paying alimony, the standard of living experienced during the marriage, the ages of the individuals in the marriage, financial information and each spouse's earning capabilities. By looking at these factors, the judge can make a good decision on whether or not a spouse can afford to make alimony payments and if they should be required at all.

Are there different types of alimony to consider in California?

Yes, there are five general types of alimony that may settle your divorce. They include temporary, permanent, lump-sum, reimbursement and rehabilitative alimony. Each type has a different purpose. For example, temporary alimony is paid when spouses are separated but not yet divorced. Rehabilitative alimony is paid until the lesser-earning spouse is self-supporting.

Reimbursement alimony pays for the expenses of the spouse who needs support. For example, if you have to go back to school, the court could order your ex-spouse to pay for your tuition.

Permanent alimony lasts indefinitely, however, it usually ends upon the death of the payee or if you get married. An alternative to this could be a lump-sum alimony payment, which is given in lieu of a property settlement in most cases. This means that you can remarry or live with someone else without worrying about losing monthly alimony payments. Be cautious, as you may receive less money overall with a lump-sum payment.

These are a few things you need to know about alimony in California. Alimony helps support you, but it is unlikely to last forever.

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