A California family court will sometimes order spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, when issuing a divorce order. Though the judge has flexibility in making their decision, they must make it based on the factors outlined in Family Code Section 4320.

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The Factors the Divorce Judge Must Consider

Family Code Section 4320 factors include:

  • The extent the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. This includes consideration of:
    • Marketable skills of the spouse receiving support, time required to acquire those skills, need for retraining to acquire more marketable skills
    • How earning capacity of the recipient spouse was impaired by unemployment because of time spent on domestic duties
  • The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the education, training, career or license of the supporting spouse
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to pay spousal support
  • The needs of each spouse based on the standard of living established during the marriage
  • The obligations and assets of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Whether the supported party can work without causing detriment to dependent children in their custody
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Documented evidence of a history of domestic violence
  • Tax consequences
  • Hardships on each party
  • The goal is that the supported party will become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. With the exception of a marriage longer than 10 years, a “reasonable period of time” is generally one-half the length of the marriage.
  • Criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable

When You Reach a Support Agreement with Your Spouse

Often, a couple will reach an agreement regarding spousal support with judicial approval. This is always the best course if it is possible. However, it is still important for your California divorce attorney to reference the factors outlined in Family Code Section 4320 in your agreement. Why?

Should one of the partners seek to modify the spousal support order later, the court will want to know how the parties arrived at the agreement in the first place. If you have not addressed these factors, you may be looking at a trial so the court can hear evidence about each one. The parties themselves cannot reach an agreement on a change in support without a court order. This is just one of the reasons you should not submit an agreement to the judge without your California family law attorney’s close involvement.


Contact Ghazi Law Group for a Consultation

If you are seeking spousal support or if your spouse is seeking spousal support, contact Ghazi Law Group for a consultation. You will need a good California family law lawyer to analyze all the Family Code Section 4320 factors and to either present your best case to the court or to help you with a fair settlement agreement.

Contact us at (818) 839-6644 or email us at contact@ghazilawgroup.com to schedule a consultation. We are located in Sherman Oaks, California, close to Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City, and other areas of Los Angeles County.

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