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Alimony: how much will you have to pay?

Many California residents understand the purpose of child support after a divorce, as it is needed to make sure a child continues to have a stable life post-divorce. However, alimony is a much harder pill to swallow, as it is often used to help support adults who can seemingly take care of themselves. In reality, many divorced men and women truly need alimony to stay afloat financially in the months and years following their divorce.

When a judge considers whether alimony is needed and how much should be paid, he or she will consider a number of factors. First, the judge will look at how long you have been married. Generally, short-term marriages (marriages lasting under 10 years) will result in limited alimony that may only last a few years. If both spouses have been married only a few years earn close to the same amount of money, alimony may not be granted at all. The judge will also consider if you and your soon-to-be ex have variable incomes. If the amount of money you each make changes from year to year, the courts may have to average the amount you make over a five-year period to determine how much alimony will be paid.

Courts will also consider whether you and your spouse are both working at the time of the divorce. Many people stop working outside of the home when they get married, so it may be difficult for them to re-enter the workforce. Courts understand these challenges, and therefore may award rehabilitative alimony to give a non-working spouse a chance to further their education or sign up for job-related training to be able to compete for a job.

In a short-term marriage, courts may calculate the non-working spouse’s income as if he or she worked a minimum-wage job for 40 hours a week. If the couple has young children, the court will consider the fact that it may be better for the non-working spouse to continue to stay home with the kids, and will adjust payments accordingly. On the other hand, if the paying spouse loses his or her job or is unable to make alimony payments, he or she may file for a modification of payments based on their change in circumstances.

If you need assistance in determining alimony payments or filing for a modification, consider speaking to a divorce attorney about your case. This may be the only way to ensure that your legal rights, and your financial future, are protected as fully as possible given the circumstances at hand.

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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law
520 Warren Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: 650-381-9591
Fax: 650-261-9650
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