How is spousal support determined?

By Erin McGaughey
January 25, 2016

Spousal support is determined on a temporary basis during the pendency of a divorce. We often use the guidelines similar to the child support. We also look at factors in the family code that are considerations in determining the amount of support, which is really the key arguments and data that the court will look at when making a permanent support order.

The most important of those factors are the ones that you see used most often: the ability to pay and the need for spousal support. This leads into the second question: If a spouse hasn’t been employed for five years during a marriage, will that have an effect? Yes, it will. The courts on a temporary basis basically look at where everybody is right now. What's the current status quo? However, it is the goal of the state that all parties become self-supporting. There is an expectation that the unemployed spouse at some point will start earning money and contributing to their needs monetarily.

One of the 4,320 factors that's also considered by the court is how much time one spouse may have taken off to devote themselves to domestic duty. That will play into the spousal support that's ultimately decided by a court or most likely negotiated.


Partner at McGaughey & Spirito, California family lawyer Erin McGaughey handles complex divorce cases that involve child custody issues, financial issues, and business interests.

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January 25, 2016

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