What is spousal support?
Spousal support (also called “alimony”) is the amount of money the higher income spouse pays to the lower income spouse when they separate and file for divorce.
How is spousal support determined?
There are two types of spousal support – (1) temporary and (2) permanent. Temporary support (short term) is paid during the pendency of the divorce (from the date of separation until entry of judgment). Permanent support is paid for a longer period of time, after entry of judgment for dissolution.
For temporary support the courts (or if negotiated the parties) use a computer-generated program that calculates child and supposal support based primarily on the income of both parties. The program is called DissoMasterTM. Income is the main factor in temporary spousal support calculations, although other factors such as health insurance, mandatory union dues, and mortgage interest can play a role.
The DissoMasterTM calculation is not used for permanent support determination. Instead, the parties and/or a judge consider a number of factors to make support award including length of marriage, age and health of the parties, earning capacity and employment history of the parties. These are the so-called Family Code Section 4320 factors. Additionally, the person awarded spousal support pays taxes on it and the party paying the support can deducted the spousal support payments from his/her taxes.