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Spousal support is a sensitive subject that many people feel very strongly about. Many people agree that alimony is important for spouses who earned less or left the workforce altogether. Others feel that alimony payments are too high or last for too long. In California, a new initiative could significantly change how judges handle this type of post-divorce support.

The new initiative proposes a cap for how long a person may be ordered to pay child support. If this initiative gets onto the ballot and voters approve it, judges would be prevented from ordering spousal support for more than five years after a divorce or a legal separation. The estimated financial impact on both local and state governments is not known.

Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State for California, recently announced that the supporters of this newly proposed initiative could begin collecting signatures for a petition. They must collect at least 623,212 signatures from registered voters within 180 days from approval. The signatures have to be turned in on or before Feb. 2, 2020.

Alimony has already undergone significant changes recently. Since individuals who pay child support can no longer deduct this support on their taxes, making those monthly payments might be a greater burden than before. Capping alimony at five years could minimize this problem, but it could also create further difficulties for recipients who need support for longer than five years. Since this is still just an initiative, an individual who believes that he or she is paying too much for alimony should instead petition the court to request a lower amount.