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What will a court consider when awarding alimony?

California couples going through a divorce often have many financial concerns. This is especially true when it comes to spousal support -- also known as alimony. The person paying alimony may be concerned that they will be bled dry financially from an unfair award, while the person receiving alimony may be concerned about making ends meet financially, especially if they earn significantly less than their ex or if they stayed out of the workforce altogether while married, and are now facing re-entry in the working world. The state of California understands these concerns, and per law there are certain factors the court will consider to ensure that a spousal support award is fair.

For example, the court will consider what each party can earn through work to have a standard of living that is similar to that they enjoyed while married. To make this decision, the court will look at the marketable skills of the party receiving alimony as well as what the job market looks like. If the party receiving alimony needs to go back to school in order to obtain a job, that will also be considered. If the party receiving alimony stayed out of the workforce while married in order to care for the family, this will also be considered.

In addition, the length of the marriage will be considered, particularly with regards to how long a spousal support award will last. Under California law, the goal of alimony is to get the receiving party to a point where, within a reasonable period of time, he or she will be able to become financially self-supporting. In general, this amount of time is calculated as being around one-half of the length of the marriage. However, the court does have some discretion. Specifically, if a marriage lasted more than 10 years, it may be considered to be "long-term," necessitating a permanent award of alimony.

In the end, there is a lot to be considered when determining how much to award in spousal support. Therefore, those who are in the process of getting a divorce in California may want to make sure they seek legal advice, to ensure that a result is reached that is fair to all involved.

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