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What do courts consider when awarding alimony?

Alimony or spousal support is sometimes ordered during divorce proceedings. Its purpose is to ensure one spouse can maintain a similar standard of living as he or she enjoyed during the marriage. Not all couples are eligible for spousal support, as judges often consider certain factors when making a decision. The Judicial Branch of California explains a few of these factors. 

Length of the relationship

Both people in marriages and domestic partnerships can request spousal support when their relationship ends. However, the length of the relationship is often a key factor in approving such requests. It also has an impact on how long spousal support is provided. As a general rule, support is provided for half as long as the relationship lasted. In cases were relationships lasted for more than ten years, the judge may decide to award support indefinitely. The judge will also need to determine when the separation occurred, which is the official end to the relationship. If multiple separations and reunions occurred, this may be factored in. 

Earning capacity

For marriages that were long in duration where one spouse was primarily responsible for supporting the other financially, the other spouse may not have any marketable job skills. As a result, it can be quite difficult for him or her to secure lucrative employment, especially to meet the standard set during the marriage. In this case, the judge may order that spousal support continues until the person undergoes a sufficient amount of training to be eligible for such employment. 

Domestic violence or abuse

Judges are usually reluctant to order an abuse victim to remit spousal support to their abuser, even if other conditions apply. On the other hand, if the person receiving the support was the victim of abuse, the judge may increase the amount of support being provided to make up for emotional distress. 

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