There was a time not too long ago when a parent that stayed home with children would routinely be awarded “alimony for life” if the couple divorced. The expectation was that this parent would continue to stay home and raise the children, and the parent that worked during the marriage would continue to support both the former spouse and children in the “lifestyle they were accustomed to.” This is no longer the case, so if you are a stay-at-home parent contemplating divorce, you should speak to an experienced and aggressive Marin County divorce attorney to find out if you will need to go back to work after your divorce.
How Alimony (Spousal Support) Amounts are Determined in California
New gender neutral laws award alimony based on many factors, including the maintenance of the “marital lifestyle.” An important factor is whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the sole or higher earning spouse’s career by taking care of the home and children while they advanced their career by acquiring education or promotions. The debts and assets received in the divorce settlement (or order) and any separate property owned are also considered. California does still consider the impact of working on a primary caregiver, giving stay-at-home parents a grace period, but “alimony for life” has become extremely rare. It is important to know that alimony cannot be determined in California until child support is resolved by an agreement or order.
How Long Can Alimony (Spousal Support) Be Collected in California?
Some states have passed laws that strictly limit the duration of spousal support, outlaw “lifetime alimony” or end payments when the payor retires. California spousal support has no such limits and is based on “general equitable principles and guidelines.” Generally, the court will only award up to half the length of a marriage of less than ten years, but will impose no limits on longer marriages. Spousal support may be ordered to allow a stay-at-home parent to continue in that role until the children are “school age,” but lifetime support is extremely rare.