California Alimony Frequently Asked Questions

We receive a lot of questions regarding California alimony payments (commonly referred to as spousal support) from our readers. Below is a brief overview of common responses we provide. Check out our California Spousal Support eCourse to learn more about alimony payments in California. Read on to learn more.

California Alimony (Spousal Support) FAQs

I am getting a divorce.  Will I have to pay spousal support and how much?

In California, spousal support is awarded in 10-15% of divorce cases. The decision to award spousal support and the amount of support a spouse may receive will depend on many factors.  Such factors include the age and health of the spouses, the standard of living the couple enjoyed while married, the income each spouse receives, and the earning potential of each spouse. If one spouse’s earning potential has been reduced because he/she put his/her career on hold to take care of domestic duties, he/she will likely receive support.

How long will I have to pay spousal support?

The duration of spousal support payments depends on a number of factors, the most important being the length of the marriage.  The general rule is that spousal support lasts for half the length of the marriage.  For marriages lasting more than 10 years, the court might not set an end date.

How does spousal support affect my taxes?

Unlike child support, spousal support is tax deductible.  You do not need to itemize to take this deduction.  To get this deduction, there must be a court order to pay support and you must have actually paid it.  A spouse receiving support must declare the support as income and it will be taxed.

What happens if my ex remarries?

Spousal support automatically terminates if your ex remarries.

What happens if my ex moves in with their new significant other?

If your ex begins cohabitating with a romantic partner, there is a rebuttable presumption that he/she has a decreased need for support.  You can petition the court to reduce the amount of spousal support.

My ex cheated on me.  Will I have to pay spousal support?

California is a no-fault divorce state.  Infidelity is not a factor the courts use when determining spousal support.

If I get a raise, does that mean I will have to pay more support?

No.  Spousal support is based on the standard of living you and your ex enjoyed while married.  An increase in your income will not affect the amount of support you pay.

I lost my job.  Can I get my payments reduced?

Yes.  You can petition the court to modify the spousal support order.

My ex got a new job with a large increase in salary.  Do I still have to pay him/her support?

In that case, you can petition the court to reduce or terminate support.

Do I have to pay support when I retire?

In California, you can retire at age 65.  If the reduction in income affects your ability to pay, you can petition the court to modify the spousal support agreement.

I have been paying my ex spousal support for a while, and he/she has made no effort to find a job.  Do I have to keep paying him/her?

Spousal support is supposed to be temporary.  If your ex has not made a good faith effort to become self-supporting, a court may issue a Gavron warning that support could be terminated if he/she does not try to become self-supporting.

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