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Why will I have to pay spousal support?

Misconceptions about divorce are nothing new, but pervasive myths and half-truths can be confusing if you are ready to end your marriage and unsure of what to expect. This is especially difficult when it comes to alimony. Commonly referred to as spousal support, this sometimes-controversial topic is an important part of California family law. 

If you are ordered to pay spousal support, you did not "lose." Judges take many factors into account before ordering support, and familiarizing yourself with them might make it easier to anticipate whether you will end up paying. 

Did you just get married? 

Barring certain circumstances, a judge will most likely not order support if your marriage lasted only a handful of years. While there are exceptions -- such as in the case of a stay-at-home parent -- divorce after less than 10 years of marriage usually will not involve alimony. 

Being married for 10 years or more is still not a guarantee for alimony. Did you and your ex earn similar incomes? If so, there is likely no need for support. However, if you earned significantly more, if your spouse quit his or her job, or  if your spouse accepted a lower position to care for your children, you should be prepared. 

What does alimony even pay for? 

Leaving the working world to become a full-time caregiver for children involves a substantial amount of risk. Parents often lose out on years of career building and may fall so far behind that they can no longer compete in their original field. Job retraining is often necessary to help these individuals find a new career with which they can support themselves. 

Job retraining costs may be one part of alimony. While you may feel that paying for these costs is unfair, if you and your ex share a child, then you understand how important it is for financial stability. 

My ex does not work, what now? 

Is your ex-spouse caring for a young child? If the cost of childcare is expected to be more expensive than he or she can feasibly earn, then a judge may not expect the other parent to find work. Instead, alimony support will provide necessary financial support until your ex can find a higher-paying job or your child enters school. 

California family law is complicated, and in many cases, subtle nuances can influence the outcome of various matters. This is true with alimony, where each family's individual needs and circumstances are different. As such, going through divorce alone can be overwhelming, so many people choose to seek guidance from an experienced attorney who can advocate on their behalf. 

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