California law makes a distinction between “short-term” and “long-term” marriages in determining the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support. For marriages less than 10 years in duration, California law and case law precedent maintains that the spouse obligated to pay spousal support is obligated to do so for one-half the length of the actual marriage.
However, for marriages 10 years or more, the court generally has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and the longer the marriage, generally the prospect of continuing spousal support for many years to come.
Temporary spousal support, also known as “pendite lite” spousal support, is generally an award of support while the divorce is still pending in the court. It is calculated using the same formula and computer programs as for child support.
Permanent spousal support, which is determined by the court at time of trial or agreed to by the parties, does not involve a formula or computer program. Instead, it is a factual analysis of the factors of the marriage, including the marital standard of living and the following factors:
- The extent to which each party’s earning capacity is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;
- The contributions of the supported party to the paying party’s education, training, career position, or professional license;
- The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support;
- The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage;
- The obligations and asset, including separate property, of each party;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children;
- The age and health of the parties;
- Any history of domestic violence between the parties;
- The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party;
- The balance of the hardships to each party;
- The goal that the supported party become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (usually one-half the length of the marriage);
- Any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse; and
- Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.
In situations where neither party needs spousal support at the moment, the Court can reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support in the future if there were any change of circumstances, such as serious illness, disability, or loss of employment.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.