The late Robin Williams knew how expensive going through a divorce could be. He once joked that they were, “going to call it ‘all the money’ but they changed it to ‘alimony.’” For the higher-income earner in a marriage that is headed toward divorce, “all the money” can feel all too real. Indeed, one of the biggest question marks surrounding couples considering a divorce is how much support payments will be—and how long they will continue.
Called spousal support in California, alimony reflects the amount of money the higher income earner pays to the lower- (or non-) income earning spouse during and after the divorce. These payments are intended to maintain the status quo of the marriage during the divorce process and help the lower-income earning partner become self-sufficient, if possible.
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule or formula that determine the appropriate amount of alimony, called “spousal support” in California, for every couple in the long-term. Fortunately, however, spousal support is something couples can agree to as part of the divorce process: both the amount and the duration. Knowing what spousal support is and what it is intended to do can help both you and your partner come to an agreement that does not feel like you are paying all the money to your partner. Let’s take a look at the definition of key terms around spousal support before examining typical spousal support arrangements—as well as your alternatives.