Spousal Support

San Francisco Spousal Support

The laws governing spousal support awards differ greatly from child support. Child support can be coined as a mandatory obligation that can not be contracted away between the parties, whereas spousal support is not. In cases warranting spousal support, different duties attach than those imposed by the child support statutes, and broad discretion is afforded the courts in making a determination as to a party's right to receive spousal support.

In California there are two general schemes for spousal support, one of which provides for the payment of temporary spousal support pending resolution of a dissolution or termination of a domestic partnership (pendente lite support). The second component of spousal support is post-judgment spousal support, a much more complex determination.

When making an order for temporary spousal support, the courts are not restricted by the law, and need only look to the a party's need and the other party's ability to pay when making an order for spousal support. Most counties have adopted a formula for temporary spousal support (e.g., spousal support will be 50% of the net pay of the obligor spouse minus 40% of the obligee). The legal fiction created by such a formula is that the support award will maintain the "status quo" of the parties they enjoyed prior to separation. A temporary support award often establishes the high end on any further spousal support award

When determining the amount and duration of post-judgment spousal support a court takes into account no less than 14 distinct factors contained in Family Code Section 4320. These include but are not limited to, the length of the marriage or domestic partnership, the age and health of the parties, work history, current employment, education, time for retraining or education of the supported party, minor children, marital standard of living, history of domestic violence, tax consequences, income and nonincome producing assets, etc.

It is the goal of the state of California that a party become self supporting within a "reasonable period of time," taking into account the various factors mentioned above. Although a lengthy marriage in California is one lasting over 10 years and creates a presumption that support may be ordered for a longer period of time than one lasting less than 10 years, the general belief that spousal support is only payable for half the length of the marriage is not the law. Post-judgment spousal support can be ordered for any length of time, or not at all, and is completely dependent upon the circumstances of each case.


San Francisco
Address: 625 Market Street, Penthouse
City/State: San Francisco, Ca 94105
Phone: (415) 399-6830
Fax: (415) 391-0141

Ruben Law Firm provides compassionate family law and divorce attorney representation to clients in Northern California. Including San Francisco County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Sonoma County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Napa County, Los Angeles County and Orange County.

Contact Info

  • 625 Market Street, Penthouse
  • San Francisco, CA 94105
  • Phone: (415) 399-6830
  • Fax: (415) 391-0140
  • E-Mail: info@rubenlawfirm.com