What You Need To Know About Filing For Alimony In California

Filing for Alimony in California, Hello DivorceWhen contemplating divorce, thoughts of how one will fare financially after the conclusion of the process can constantly flood the mind. You might find yourself wondering whether you will be able to afford the same lifestyle as you have become accustomed to over the course of your marriage. (See our 7 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Prevent Struggling Financially After Divorce).

Alimony is meant to correct any unfair financial or economic impact of a divorce. The term alimony, or spousal support, refers to a legal obligation of one spouse to support their ex-partner financially after the conclusion of their divorce.

Alimony, although viewed as unfair at times, is basically meant to ensure that both partners in a marriage walk away on stable financial grounding. Any spouse can apply for spousal support/alimony in the state of California.

It is, however, important to note that the awarding of spousal support/alimony is dependent on whether the requesting party is in need of said support, and the other party is able to provide it.

To learn more about filing for alimony in the state of California, read on below.

Here’s everything you need to know about the complicated legal requirements regarding alimony in California. Note that the terms alimony and spousal support are used interchangeably.

What Is Alimony And Why Is It Necessary?

Alimony, or spousal support, in the state of California, is used to correct any economic or financial unfairness caused by a divorce. In other words, spousal support is designed to ensure that both partners end up on stable financial grounding after the conclusion of the divorce.

Alimony is granted on a need basis. This simply means that the receiving partner must demonstrate their need for financial assistance. In the same breath, the contributing partner must be in a position to make the payments. Both male and female partners in a marriage can apply for alimony as it is granted on a gender-neutral basis.

RELATED: Spousal Support A-Z

Determining The Amount Of Alimony

Dealing with spousal support can be one of the trickiest and most stressful parts of the California divorce process; the main reason for this being the fact that the state does not a have a specific formula to be used in the calculation of alimony payments.

To arrive at a suitable figure, both parties can sit down and agree on what they deem to be fair. Where such an agreement cannot be arrived at for one reason or the other, the couple can leave this determination to a court of law. California courts usually settle on a figure after considering a long list of factors.

Get tips for discussing alimony in our resource, How to Talk to Your Ex About Spousal and Child Support.

Forms of Spousal Support According To California Law

Divorcing couples can discuss and agree upon or contest, in a court of law, any of the following forms of alimony in California.


Temporary spousal support is usually paid to the lower-earning partner after separation but before the conclusion of the divorce process. This, therefore, means that the higher paying partner ceases to make payments after the divorce is finalized. This form of spousal support is usually meant to help the spouse in need to meet their living expenses during the divorce process. Once the divorce is finalized, the support comes to an as well. Instead of using the guidelines used in calculating permanent spousal support, the court uses the California child support guidelines to estimate the amount of temporary support to be granted.

The amount of temporary alimony paid is bound to be different from the amount of alimony paid after the divorce is finalized as the former is only based on the last 12 months of the income of both spouses.


Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is usually paid after the divorce is finalized and both parties agree on, or a court sets a specific amount. Permanent spousal support may be paid until the receiving party re-marries or one of the parties dies.

It is also worth noting that the amount of permanent spousal support paid may be varied due to changes in the ability of the contributing party to pay.

RELATED: Expert Tips for Negotiating Spousal Support | How to Talk to Your Ex About Spousal and Child Support


The main aim of alimony in California is to give the in-need party time to regroup after the financial/economic shock of a divorce. This type of alimony is mainly granted to couples where there is one distinct primary earner. This form of spousal support is meant to give the lower-earning partner the time and resources to seek any training that would make them marketable in the current job market; thus giving them the ability to stand up on their own two feet. Once this is achieved, the payments come to an end. This form of support is usually granted with the aim of giving the spouse adjudged to be in need the time they would need to acquire the training or skills needed to enter the job market, and thus be able to support themselves. As most other forms of spousal support awarded in the state, it is usually granted in cases involving couples that have one primary earner while the other spouse has to stay at home and look after their kids.


California law also allows a divorcing partner to claim reimbursement for the expenses of the other. This is usually where such investment was meant to further the marketable skills of said partner, thus increasing the future earning power of the couple as a whole. In cases where one or both spouses contributed financially to the educational advancement of one partner in the hopes that they may benefit the couple in future, California law allows you to request for spousal support in the form of a reimbursement for the amount you spent on your partner’s education.


Alimony in California can be quite confusing; however, with the right knowledge and legal assistance divorcing couples can ensure a better and fairer outcome for all involved.

Do you have questions about requesting spousal support? Book a FREE 15-minute call with our legal experts now.

How To Get A Spousal Support Order

You have two main options when it comes to filing for alimony in California. You can agree upon the amount of support to be paid out of court with your partner and then have the agreement – also referred to as a stipulation – signed by a judge. Alternatively, you can ask for a spousal support hearing in a court of law. It is worth noting that while a temporary calculator is used to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support awarded by the court, a long list of factors is considered when it comes to calculating the amount of rehabilitative and permanent spousal support to be granted.

If you are considering requesting child or spousal support from your ex, Hello Divorce can help. Book a *free* 15-minute divorce strategy call with one of our California lawyers now.

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