Although an individual might not feel comfortable with providing ongoing financial support to an ex, spousal support is an integral part of California family law. Paying alimony should not be viewed as a punishment, just as receiving support is not considered winning in divorce. Unfortunately, many people do view it as such. Understanding what topics factor into alimony can help address some of these misconceptions.

Divorce is certainly an emotional process, but it is a legal and financial process as well. A person who earned less than his or her spouse during the marriage is usually at a greater risk of taking on unfair economic burdens during divorce. Alimony is intended to lift some of those burdens.

Since no two marriages are alike, each order for spousal support will be different. When determining alimony, a judge will consider many different factors, including the age and overall health condition of each spouse. Personal finances, earning abilities, length of marriage, marital standard of living and one spouse’s ability to pay are other important factors to consider.

There are also different types of alimony. For example, rehabilitative alimony is paid until an ex-spouse is able to financially support him or herself, while reimbursement alimony is for reimbursing specific expenses, such as training programs or tuition. Neither of these types of alimony are intended as permanent support systems. In California, permanent alimony is an option in some cases, but ends if the recipient remarries.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to earn more during a marriage, or for a parent to take time off work to care for children or elderly relatives. This is why alimony plays an important role in securing necessary financial stability after a divorce. However, both the person paying alimony as well as the person receiving it should be certain that the ordered amount of support is correct. An experienced family law attorney can generally provide valuable guidance on these matters.