Alimony in California

When a couple separates or divorces, the court may order one spouse to pay the other a certain amount of support money each month. This is called “spousal support.” A spousal support award is not mandatory in dissolution or legal separation proceedings in California. Courts have discretion (within statutory parameters) to deny spousal support altogether or to limit it in an amount and duration that reflects the ability of both parties to provide for their own needs.

A judge takes many things into consideration when determining the amount of spousal support that should be ordered. These include:

  1. The length of the marriage or domestic partnership,
  2. What each person needs,
  3. What each person pays or can pay (including earnings and earning capacity),
  4. Whether having a job would make it too hard to take care of the child(ren),
  5. The age and health of both people,
  6. Debts and property,
  7. Whether a spouse or domestic partner helped the other get an education, training, career, or professional license,
  8. Whether there was domestic violence in the marriage or domestic partnership,
  9. Whether the career of a spouse or domestic partner was affected by unemployment, or by taking care of the children or home,
  10. The tax impact of spousal support (Note: federal and state tax laws were not changed to recognize domestic partnerships).

To download information on how spousal support is calculated, and applicable Code Sections, click here:

The term of spousal support can be strictly limited, which means that it can be either modifiable or non-modifiable, limited in length of time, have specified conditions for termination, etc.

  1. Fixed-term orders: Spousal support orders for a fixed duration terminate at the end of the period specified in the order unless the court retained jurisdiction in its most recent order to extend the obligation. Except upon the parties’ written agreement to the contrary or a court order terminating support, the court retains spousal support jurisdiction indefinitely where the marriage has been of “long duration.”
  2. Contingent orders: An obligation to pay spousal support for a contingent period of time terminates on the happening of the specified contingency.
  3. Remarriage/death: Unless the parties have “otherwise agreed” in writing, a court ordered spousal support obligation terminates upon either party’s death or the supported party’s remarriage.

Usually, spousal support is tax deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the supported spouse.

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Marriage and PartnershipsDescriptionPrice
Short term marriageNO personal property, children or real property$375
Marriages with personal propertyNO children, includes written Agreement$475
Marriages with childrenIncludes written Agreement$475
Marriages with real propertyIncludes written Agreement$575
Summary DissolutionPlease check qualifications for Summary Dissolution$375
Termination of Domestic Partnership through Secretary of StatePlease check qualifications for Secretary of State procedure$275
Response to Dissolution$150-$175
Motion or Contested ProceedingsPrice
Spousal Support Motion (RFO)$375
Spousal Support Motion with Custody and Visitation Request (RFO)$475
Emergency Spousal Support Motion (RFO)
Includes request for temporary orders.
$550
Emergency Spousal Support Motion with Custody and Visitation Request
Includes request for temporary orders.
$650

Marriage and Partnerships Services

  • Short term marriage NO personal property, children or real property – $375
  • Marriages with personal property, NO children, includes written Agreement – $475
  • Marriages with children, Includes written Agreement – $475
  • Marriages with real property, Includes written Agreement – $575
  • Summary Dissolution, Please check qualifications for Summary Dissolution – $375
  • Termination of Domestic Partnership through Secretary of State, Please check qualifications for Secretary of State procedure – $275
  • Response to Dissolution – $150-$175

Motions or Contested Proceedings

  • Spousal Support Motion (RFO) – $375
  • Spousal Support Motion with Custody and Visitation request (RFO) – $475
  • Emergency Spousal Support Motion (RFO)
    Includes request for temporary orders. – $550
  • Emergency Spousal Support Motion with Custody and Visitation request
    Includes request for temporary orders – $650