Alimony and spousal support; you may be asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” Well, there is none. Alimony used to be referred to as spousal support. Alimony is not granted to anyone and is different from child support. If you are financially stable without your spouse, you probably will receive little to no alimony. The basic rules on if you can receive alimony or not are as follows:

  1. Whether or not you have a financial need for alimony.
  2. Whether or not your spouse has the ability to pay you.

Both of these factors are basic, yet they are often forgotten about. Sometimes a divorce gets so ugly and messy that one party just wants to take as much as they can from the other.

Information You Need to Get Alimony

 Anytime you go to court you need the proper documentation in order to win the case. Divorce lawsuits can get ugly, make sure you have the right documentation so you are awarded correctly. Some of the information you may need is:

Financial – If you are the party attempting to get alimony, make sure you keep gather a documented list of your living expenses (ie: groceries, personal care, etc.) and you should have an official document which accurately represents your income. You can compare these documents to your spouse’s in an effort to prove you are incurring a monthly debt as opposed to a monthly excess.

 Healthcare and Age – If you have a medical condition that limits your ability to work and your spouse is fully capable, you may be entitled to alimony. In most cases, alimony is only awarded for a set period of time (ie: 1-5 years).

Another factor in alimony payments is how close you are to retirement. If you are ready to retire, the court might take into consideration how retirement will affect you financially.

Education and Employment – In terms of the court, a higher degree generally equates to a higher salary. Therefore, if your spouse has a higher degree than you and makes more money he/she may be required to pay you alimony.

If you are or have been a stay at home parent, your spouse may be required to pay you alimony for the time it takes you to get a full-time job. Sometimes this can include the time it takes to earn a degree.

 Length of Marriage– The length of the marriage will determine the duration and the amount of alimony you will receive. For example, for a couple that had been married for 20 years, one spouse may be entitled to pay alimony for a longer period of time than a couple that has only been married for 2 years.

 Bad Behavior – Bad behaviors tend to have little to no effect on whether alimony will be given or the amount that must be paid. The only time it will have an effect on alimony is if the bad behavior of your spouse affects your ability to work.

 How is Alimony Calculated?

The general equation for alimony is 40% of the paying spouse’s net income (post child support) – 50% of the amount the supported spouse’s income. Although this is a widely used formula, it really depends on the judge and the ability of your lawyer to convince the judge you are owed alimony. The aforementioned factors also play a role in this equation. If the disparity between incomes is very large, than the alimony owed may be larger than the equation would lead on.

In the event that you are receiving spousal support payments or if you wish to change your spousal support agreement and live in the San Diego area, feel free to contact any of our family law attorneys. We have the knowledge and experience to help many couples through this difficult divorce process.