Does a Husband Have to Support His Wife During Separation in California?

07Apr, 24

Spousal support can be a complicated part of a divorce, which is already a very financially straining process. Many husbands worry that they will lose part of their wealth while paying support to their ex-spouse. Some worry: does a husband have to support his wife during separation in California? Is spousal support mandatory?

Understanding Spousal Support

Spousal support, also called alimony, exists to provide financial support to a spouse who has a lower income during or after the finalization of divorce. Spousal support is not mandatory and, in fact, is part of relatively few divorces. A skilled Corona divorce attorney can help you advocate for your wishes in a divorce.

Understanding the types of alimony can help spouses understand when they can expect to pay or receive spousal support and when it may be unnecessary for their separation.

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is support awarded while a divorce case is still in progress. It provides for the immediate financial needs of a lower-earning spouse during the divorce. If spouses do not agree on the amount of support, the court will step in and decide. The court considers the needs of the lower-earning spouse and the ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay that support.

If paying spousal support would make you unable to meet your expenses, the court will likely determine it to be inappropriate. However, if you have the ability to pay, and your spouse cannot meet their expenses, you may be required to pay support.

Long-Term Spousal Support

Long-term spousal support is the support assigned once a divorce case is finalized. It may also be called a permanent support order, although it is uncommon for the support to actually be permanent. The court is more likely to assign this type of spousal support if the couple has been married for a long time and if one spouse earns more than the other.

Long-term spousal support payments are meant to last until the supported spouse can reasonably become self-supporting. The longer the marriage, the longer it can be expected for the spouse to become self-supporting. This includes a 10-year assumption. This means:

  • If you have been married for under ten years, the support payments will be paid for half the duration of the marriage
  • If you were married for more than ten years, there is no set assumption for the length of spousal support, and it is up to the discretion of the judge

The amount of long-term spousal support payments and the amount of time they last are determined based on the following factors:

  1. Marriage duration
  2. Age and health of both spouses
  3. Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
  4. Each spouse’s contributions to the education, career, or professional training of the other
  5. Standard of living the couple enjoyed while married
  6. Each spouse’s separate assets and debts
  7. The needs of the spouse requesting support
  8. The ability of the spouse who would pay the requested amount
  9. Tax implications of spousal support
  10. Any history of abuse between spouses
  11. If either party’s career was affected by raising and caring for children
  12. If the parent awarded custody is able to work while caring for them

The support payment amount is up to the discretion of the judge, but having support from a knowledgeable attorney can help you advocate for what you believe is fair.

Mediated Separation Agreements

You and your spouse have the option to negotiate a separation agreement outside of court. Although the agreement must still be considered fair by the court, you and your spouse have much more control and discretion to determine property division, spousal support, and decisions about your children.

Marital Agreements in Divorce

If couples enter their divorce with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this can predetermine how spousal support will or will not be awarded. As long as the agreement is not unconscionable, the court will enforce it.


Q: Do I Have to Support My Wife During Separation in California?

A: You do not have to support your wife during separation or divorce unless it is court-ordered by a judge. However, if the court orders you to pay spousal support, you must pay that support. If you earn a significantly higher income than your wife, you will likely be required to support her during the divorce case and after the divorce is finalized. The court has the ability to assign spousal support in divorce, legal separation, and domestic violence protective order cases.

Q: Is Spousal Support Mandatory in California?

A: No, spousal support is not mandatory in California and is fairly uncommon in divorce cases. If couples have been married for a long duration or one spouse makes substantially more than the other, the court may award support to the lower-earning spouse.

The amount and duration of this support will depend on many factors. The goal of spousal support in California is to enable both spouses to maintain a similar standard of living and to enable the supported spouse to become self-supporting.

Q: What Disqualifies You From Receiving Alimony in California?

A: A spouse is presumed to be disqualified from receiving alimony if they have a criminal conviction for domestic violence against their spouse within the five years prior to filing for divorce or during divorce proceedings. Applicable convictions include a domestic violence misdemeanor or a conviction that resulted in domestic violence probation. There may also be a presumption that the attorney’s fees and costs of both parties are paid out of community assets, and the injured spouse is not required to use their own separate assets.

Q: What Is the Hardest Part of Separation?

A: The hardest part of separation will depend on the unique marriage and the process of a couple’s separation. For some, the waiting or separation period required before divorce in certain states is the most difficult. None of the aspects of the divorce have been finalized, but spouses are beginning their lives away from each other. California does not have a required separation period but does have a required waiting period. Spouses can live together or separate during this time before the divorce is finalized.

Protecting Your Financial Interests During Divorce

The divorce process is very financially straining for all parties involved. If you are a husband looking to protect your financial interests during your divorce, contact Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic. We can help you advocate for your need for spousal support or prove that your spouse does not need support or requires a low amount of support. If you and your spouse are getting a divorce outside of court, we can help you negotiate a fair agreement, focusing on protecting your financial stability.

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