Am I eligible for alimony?

Post-divorce support payments are often necessary aspects of California family law. For those who earned significantly less than their ex-spouse or left the workplace altogether, alimony — often referred to as spousal support — can be an important lifeline. But how can an individual know whether he or she will receive alimony? There are a few factors that usually go into the decision. 

Barring extenuating circumstances, a marriage that lasted a few years or less is unlikely to yield alimony payments. However, limited alimony might be appropriate if one person earned a much higher income. Those who were married for longer periods of time — usually 10 years or longer — can expect alimony to come up during divorce proceedings.  

Young kids are another deciding factor for alimony. While child support establishes financial support for the child, what about a parent who left the workforce or delayed a career in order to be a more full-time parent? In such cases, the other parent might be ordered to cover job retraining costs or to make alimony payments, particularly if the primary caregiver cannot earn enough to cover the costs of child care. 

Alimony is a both a legally and emotionally complicated topic. The length of the marriage, income, children, future earning potential and more all go into the decision. However, some people in California might still feel nervous about these payments. What if life changes and the payments are no longer sufficient, or the payer loses his or her job and suddenly cannot meet that monthly financial obligation? In such cases, individuals can petition the court for a modification of an existing order to better reflect the current situation. 

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