Child and Spousal Support

Child and Spousal Support

Ongoing payments for the benefit of the child

When ending a marriage, the court can order two kinds of ongoing support: child support and spousal support (formerly called alimony). Child support is an ongoing periodic payment made by a parent for the benefit of their child following the end of a marriage or other relationship.  The payment can be made directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee after the relationship has been terminated.      

About Child Support

How is child support determined?

Child support is determined by a standard formula laid out by the California State Legislature. The California Guideline Child Support Calculator provided by the state takes into account the following factors in setting the amount of a parent’s obligation: 

  • The income of each parent 
  • The number of children the parents have together 
  • The amount of time that the child spends with each parent 
  • Any children from a prior marriage and/or any other outstanding court ordered support obligations 
  • Health insurance costs 
  • The tax deductions of each parent
  • The income of a new spouse if either of the parents remarry 

Child care and health care costs not covered by insurance are usually paid equally between the parents, as a mandatory "add-on" to child support. 

About Spousal Support

About Spousal Support

How is spousal support determined?

When a couple gets a divorce, spousal support may be awarded to one of the spouses. This can be based either on an agreement between partners or on a decision made by the court itself.  The purpose being to limit the number of unfair economic effects encountered by a spouse who is unemployed or makes a lower wage.  Sometimes a spouse may have chosen to forego a career in order to support a family and therefore needs time to develop a skill set to financially support themselves.  

Below are some of the factors the court considers when making a determination on spousal support: 

  • The standard of living during the marriage 
  • The length of marriage 
  • The ability of the spouse to pay prior to trial 
  • The assets and obligations of each party 
  • The age, physical condition, emotional state and fincancial condition of the former spouses 
  • The length of time the recipient would need for education and occupational training

Permanent spousal support for a marriage lasting less than 10 years will usually last half of the length of the marriage.  The duration can be longer or shorter, however, subject to the Court’s discretion based on the facts and issues presented.  There is a general expectation that the spouse will make efforts to become self-sufficient and this expectation is factored into the Judgement. 

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