Ask a California Divorce Attorney: Busting Alimony Myths

Pleasanton CA divorce attorneyAlimony continues to be one of those topics that seem to confuse everyone, and the falsehoods that we’ve heard have spread like wildfire. So for this post, we wanted to combat some of these misconceptions and expose a few “facts” about alimony that are inaccurate or not always universally true. Remember, we’re just a phone call away so if you want more in-depth advice, you can always reach out to us directly at the Law Office of James P. White. For now, here are some of the biggest myths about alimony that we continue to hear day after day.

Myth 1: Alimony is Always Guaranteed, No Matter What

This is a popular myth, but the truth is that neither alimony nor spousal support is mandatory in any separation proceedings. Rather than being an absolute right, alimony is determined by a variety of factors involving each individual’s earning capacity and the standard of living that both were accustomed to during the marriage. These factors can include the employability of each individual, the impact that the divorce has on their earning potential, each party’s contributions to the household income, and more. This gets even more complicated because in California, public policy is designed to encourage people to support themselves.

Myth 2: Alimony is “For Life” After Ten Years of Marriage

While the duration of a marriage is a factor in determining if and how spousal support is granted, there is no rule involving ten years and automatic alimony for life. A marriage of ten years or more is classified under “long duration,” but for the purposes of alimony, the same factors are ultimately weighed by the family law courts before they hand down their decision.

Myth 3: Alimony is Easily Calculated with a Simple Formula

We hear this one all time. Our clients walk in with a number that they’ve calculated online, convinced that the figure is accurate. What they might have stumbled across however, is a calculator used to determine temporary support. In California, Family Code section 4320 needs to be used as a guideline for determining permanent support, which is where the previously-discussed factors all come into play. There are times where judges, court employees, and even attorneys get lazy and simply stick with the figure means for temporary support. The law itself is clear, however, and using this amount for a permanent arrangement is illegal.

Want to Learn More?

We hope you’ve learned a bit about alimony and spousal support while reading this post. If you want to learn more, and to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys, be sure to call us directly at the Law Office of James P. White.