How to Calculate a California Alimony Payment

By Louis Kroeck

There is no guaranteed formula available for calculating an alimony payment in California. However, you can make a fairly educated guess at what your alimony payments might be by analyzing the guidelines used by California courts. You also can get an estimate of your alimony payments by using an online alimony calculator, but alimony calculators will not consider many specific details that may be pertinent depending on your circumstances.

Step 1

Assess the factors that California courts look to when awarding alimony including the length of your marriage, your general standard of living during your marriage, the income of both you and your partner and the abilities of each spouse to maintain a job without impairing the interests of any children resulting from the marriage. California courts generally allow larger alimony awards where the marriage lasted for a significant amount of time, the standard of living was high for both spouses during the marriage, one spouse makes significantly more money than the other and one spouse will be impaired in seeking employment due to the need to provide child care. Additionally, even if one of the spouses is not employed, California courts will consider any relevant job experience or marketable skills.

Step 2

Assess other factors that California courts may consider, including the age and health of both spouses, debts and property held jointly or individually, whether one spouse supported the other while that spouse sought education, career training or a professional license, the tax ramifications of spousal support and the existence of domestic violence in the relationship. California courts will generally award higher alimony payments if the receiving spouse has special health needs, limited property, high debts and that spouse was a victim of domestic violence.

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Step 3

Determine who makes more money -- you or your spouse. If one spouse makes significantly more money than the other, that spouse will likely be forced to pay alimony. Compile a list of the above factors that will bolster a judge's ability to award you a higher alimony payment under California law. You may use this list when you go before the judge to determine actual alimony payments. The ultimate goal in awarding alimony is to maintain the current standard of living of both spouses, so California courts may also look to other factors that would favor one of the spouses.

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