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California Alimony Calculator 2024 – How to Calculate Spousal Support

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jul 08, 2023

One of the biggest elements that need to be determined in a divorce is the matter of alimony, or spousal support, as is the preferred term in California. One of the things that many people wish to know heading into the divorce process is what to expect in terms of alimony payments. The reality is, there isn’t an exact formula for the whole of the alimony process. Every alimony situation is different and, in the end, comes down to what the couple has negotiated or what the court decides. Still, there are some things that can help one see how alimony will be determined.

California Guidelines

Temporary support is spousal support that is meant to merely last for the duration of the divorce process and is terminated once the divorce is finalized. This kind of support does, in fact, have a calculation associated with it, although it can be altered at the discretion of the judge. The calculation takes 40% of the higher earner’s income and subtracts 50% of the lower earner’s income from that 40%. The higher earner is then responsible for that difference. For instance, imagine a situation where one spouse earned $8000 a month and the other $2000. In this case, we would subtract $1000 from 40% of $8000 ($3200). We are left with $2200 that the higher earner is responsible to pay the lower earner. This would give the lower-= earner $4200 to live on through the divorce process.

Alimony Factors

Post-divorce alimony is called rehabilitative spousal support because it is meant to allow the lower earner the opportunity to build themselves up to a state of self-sufficiency. It is not meant to be a kind of permanent source of support, although it can be, depending on the particulars of a divorce. The factors that should be considered in calculating rehabilitative support include:

  • The standard of living experienced during the marriage and each party’s ability to maintain it, once divorced
  • If one party contributed to the training and education of the other
  • How long the couple was married
  • The age and health of both parties
  • The tax impact both parties will experience
  • The ability to pay alimony, based on income and cost of living
  • If the party receiving alimony can become self-sufficient in a reasonable amount of time
  • The debts, assets, and property of both parties
  • The ability of the supported party to earn a living without impacting the well-being of the children
  • Any known hardships
  • Any documentation or convictions of domestic violence or sexual abuse toward the spouse or children
  • Any other factors that the court decides are relevant

Alimony Duration

The duration of the alimony payments will differ in every case, as the purpose of the alimony is to get the supported party to self-sufficiency. However, what that means will differ in each circumstance.


Q: For How Many Years Do You Get Spousal Support in California?

A: Every case of spousal support is different. For that reason, there’s no way to say for sure how many years of spousal support you will get. It’s important to recognize that, in California, the purpose of spousal support is not to set someone up with support for the rest of their life, even though that is occasionally the net effect of what happens. The purpose of spousal support is to give the lower-earning spouse the opportunity to become self-sufficient. The spousal support that is awarded should be in service of that goal. However, for marriages that last less than ten years, spousal support generally lasts half the length of the marriage. However, there’s no similar standard for longer marriages.

Q: How Is Alimony Awarded in California?

A: There are two kinds of alimony, also called spousal support, awarded in California:

  • Temporary support is meant to offer support to the lesser-earning spouse through the divorce process. When the divorce is finalized, the temporary support is no longer paid. This is usually calculated following the California guidelines, which take 40% of the higher earner’s income, subtract 50% of the lower earner’s income, and require the higher earner to make up the difference.
  • Rehabilitative support is meant to help the lower-earning spouse reach a state of self-sufficiency. California doesn’t offer any formula for this kind of spousal support. Instead, there are a number of factors that are meant to be taken into consideration when determining this kind of alimony.

Q: What Is California’s 10-Year Rule?

A: In California, ten years is the minimum length for a marriage to be considered long-term. Typically, this means that, for marriages less than ten years, the alimony term will be half the length of the marriage. For long-term marriages, the exact effect that the length of marriage should have on the alimony is not spelled out. However, it is one of the things that is meant to be factored into the alimony calculation.

Q: How Can an Alimony Lawyer Help?

A: Working with a lawyer through the divorce process, including determining alimony, can be beneficial. The experience they bring can help ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of in the negotiation process. Some of the ways a lawyer can aid your case include:

  • Representation Through the Negotiation Process – A lawyer representing you in negotiations can bring a level of experience to the process that can help protect your interests.
  • Representation Before the Court – Having a skilled attorney representing you in court proceedings can ensure that your position is made clear to the judge if negotiations fail to produce an agreeable arrangement.
  • General Advice and Guidance – An attorney familiar with the process can help you through the unfamiliar process, help calculate a reasonable level of spousal support expectations, and ensure that the proper paperwork is filled out.

Get Help Protecting Your Alimony Interests

California doesn’t have an exact formula for how post-divorce alimony should be calculated. This means that negotiations before a court hearing, or potentially arguing one’s case in court, are vital to determining how spousal support will be decided. To ensure that your interests are protected and well-represented throughout the process, a quality, experienced legal team is crucial. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have what you need in terms of legal assistance, guidance, and representation. Contact us today about your divorce.

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