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Spousal support is governed by the California Family Code. It may be obtained through a temporary order (a.k.a pendente lite spousal support”), or at the issuance of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. California applies different standards for determining spousal support based upon the type of support being sought.
Pendente Lite (Temporary) Spousal Support
Temporary spousal support aims to maintain the financial status quo from the date of separation, until the final judgment is entered. It is a determined with a calculator based upon California Child Support Guidelines. Factors used in the calculation include each party’s income, necessary expenses, and tax filing status.
Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent spousal support takes effect after the judgement of dissolution of marriage is entered. In determining a permanent spousal support order, the court no longer considers the guideline calculation, and instead weighs the following factors established in Family Code Section 4320:
(a) The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
(1) The marketable skills of the supported party.
(2) The extent to which the supported party’s present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
(b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
(c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support.
(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
(f) The duration of the marriage.
(g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
(h) The age and health of the parties.
(i) Documented evidence, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties.
(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.
(l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
(m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.
(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.