Spousal Support
If you are divorcing, spousal support may be an issue in your case. If it is an issue, and you cannot reach an agreement with the other party, contact the Law Office of David C. Watts for a free consultation and case analysis.

Often with the help of an attorney knowledgeable in spousal support, the parties can resolve their differences and avoid a lengthy court battle. If negotiation fails, the Law Office of David C. Watts has the experience to guide you through the court process.

For more information on spousal support, see below.

During marriage, the spouses have a duty to support one another that is set forth in the Family Code. Depending on the circumstances of your case, that duty may continue once the parties separate with an order of Spousal Support (known also as alimony or spousal maintenance).

Unlike child support, spousal support is not a right, it is within the discretion of the court.

In California, there are two categories of support, temporary and permanent. These words have specific legal meaning and are not to be taken literally. Permanent support does not mean it will last forever. Rather, it refers to support that is awarded at the conclusion of the divorce case.

Temporary Support

This refers to support during the pendency of the divorce proceedings and ends upon the entry of judgment. The purpose is to try to maintain the living conditions and standards of both parties in as close to the status quo as possible while the division of their assets and obligations is being determined. The amount of temporary spousal support lies within the court’s sound discretion. Temporary support is generally based on a mathematical formula and is calculated using the same program used to calculate child support. This gives us the “guideline” support calculation. From there, the court has the discretion to deviate either up or down.

Permanent Support

As stated above, temporary support ends upon the entry of judgment and the close of the divorce proceedings. This is where permanent support takes over. The term “permanent” is a legal term of art that does not necessarily mean that you will be paying or receiving support for lifetime. It refers more to how the support can be modified. Permanent support cannot be determined by a mathematical formula. Rather, the court has several factors as set forth in Family Code §4320. Some of these factors are:

  • The income of each party
  • The marital standard of living
  • The length of the marriage
  • The earning capacity of the parties
  • The age of the parties
  • Any history of domestic violence

The above list is only a few of the factors the court must consider when determining a support order. Having a skilled attorney on your side to properly present your case to the court will benefit you significantly.


How long spousal support will last after judgment generally depends upon the length of the marriage. The courts categorize marriage as either short term (less than 10 years) or long term (over 10 years). The duration for short-term marriages is typically equal to half the life of the marriage. For long-term marriages, post-judgment support is typically ordered to be paid until either spouse dies, the supported spouse remarries, or upon further order of the court. The “upon further order of the court” allows room for modification of the support order based on several factors. A modification can include a reduction of support to $0.00. Please note, the above analysis is a guideline. These are not set in stone and the court has the ultimate discretion in making a support award.


Modifications of support is often a hotly contested issue. The payor wants to stop supporting their ex-spouse and the supported spouse may need that revenue source just to get by. In order to seek a modification of support, the moving party will need to show a change of circumstances. This could include many different factors including, but not limited to, an increase or decrease in income to either party, the termination of child support, cohabitation of the supported spouse or even the passage of time. At a trial on the issue, one of the issues the court will consider is what the supported spouse has done to try to become self-supporting. Once a change of circumstances has been established, the court will weigh all the relevant factors to determine support going forward which can include setting support at $0.00.