As you likely know if you’re a California resident considering divorce, California is a “community property” state. That means unless spouses negotiate a different division of property, state law mandates they both get half of all combined income and assets acquired during the marriage (with rare exceptions like separate inheritances that weren’t commingled with marital assets).
If your soon-to-be ex out-earns you, however, that does not necessarily mean you get half of their income after divorce. Post-separation earnings are not considered community property.
What if your marriage affected your earning capacity considerably?
What if you gave up your career to care for your children or chose to devote your time to philanthropic endeavors because you had to be ready to travel with or help your spouse on a moment’s notice? Spousal support is typically awarded in cases like this, at least temporarily, until the lesser-earning spouse can get the education or experience they need to get back into the workplace and support themselves.
What if you’ll never be able to achieve the standard of living you’ve grown used to – perhaps over decades – on your own? Maybe you’re far closer to traditional retirement age than the age when most people enter the job market.
Do you have a right to seek the spousal support you need (and your spouse can afford) to keep you in that standard of living? You may as this is one of the factors the court must consider when setting the amount of spousal support. Of course, whether a judge will approve it (assuming your spouse doesn’t agree on their own) will depend on the strength of the case you make.
What factors are considered?
Under California law, one of the factors considered in awarding spousal support is the “extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.” Judges will also look at the person seeking support to determine:
- How long the marriage lasted
- How much they contributed to their spouse’s success
- Their marketable skills and earning capacity
- Their non-marital assets
- Their age and health
Of course, they’ll also consider your spouse’s financial situation as well, so you want to be sure they’re being honest and transparent. Having experienced legal guidance as you seek a fair amount of spousal support – whether by negotiating with your spouse and their team or putting the matter in a judge’s hands – can make all the difference to your future.