How Does the Court Decide What the Support Amount
Should Be?

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There are no formulas for spousal or partner support. Each case will be looked at differently. By law, the judge has to take many things into account when deciding what spousal or partner support should be ordered. These factors include:

  • How long the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership;
  • The age and health of each spouse or partner;
  • How much money each can earn on his or her own
  • How many expenses each spouse or partner has;
  • What debts and what property each person has;
  • What each person needs to “maintain the standard of living established during
  • the marriage”;
  • Whether having a job would make it too hard to take care of the child(ren);
  • Whether one spouse or domestic partner helped the other get an education, training, career, or professional license;
  • Whether one spouse's, or domestic partner's, career was affected by unemployment, or by taking care of the children or home;
  • The tax impact of spousal support (note: federal and state tax laws were not changed to recognize domestic partnerships); and
  • Whether there was domestic violence in the marriage or domestic partnership.

The law says that the goal is for each supported person to become self-supporting within a “reasonable period of time.”

  • A “reasonable period of time” for a union of “short duration” – 10 years or less – generally will be one-half the length of the marriage or partnership.
  • A “reasonable period of time” for a union of “long duration” – more than 10 years – generally will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

To see this law, click on California Family Code, Section 4320. Opens new window




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