When a couple divorces the parties continue to be responsible for the support of each other. This is expressed as spousal support (commonly known as alimony), the payment by one to the other of money for living expenses.
What about Temporary Spousal Support?
At the onset of a divorce the Court can order temporary spousal support, the pupose of which is to maintain as near as possible the status quo of the parties prior to marriage. In reality this goal is impossible, because the income of the parties which formerly supported one household now supports two households. None-the-less the Court will set temporary spousal support, normally by use of an aspect of the same computer program which the court uses to set child support.
Permanent Spousal Support
After a period of time regular or “permanent” spousal support is set based on about a dozen factors set forth in section 4320 of the Family Code. Many of these factors are subjective in nature. Typically this support is less than temporary support.
Spousal support in shorter marriages tends to be for about half the length of the marriage. In longer marriages of about ten years or more spousal support is for an indeterminate period of time.
Spousal support ends upon remarriage of the person receiving the support or death of either party. In can also end if the Court orders it to end. Or, if the parties agree, they can agree to limit how long spousal support is paid.
Tax Deductions for Spousal Support
The person who pays spousal support is entitled to deduct those amounts from his taxable income; the person who receives spousal support must report it as income on her/his tax return and pay an appropriate income tax on the support received.
My Spouse is Unemployed or “Underemployed”
The problems of unemployed or underemployed spouses are the same as explained in the section on child support. I routinely deal with these issues and can advise you on effective approaches on dealing with a soon to be former spouse who is not being serious about providing for their own support. The law expects each party will do the best they can to support him or her self. As a practical matter it is the best interest of each party to, as much as possible, be financially self sufficient; it would be tragic to be financially dependent on a former spouse who becomes unable to be employed.