Welfare & Alimony in California

By Mary Jane Freeman

To receive welfare in California, applicants must meet strict income requirements, and any income received from alimony must be reported. The court will award alimony, or spousal support as it's known in California, during the divorce process if a spouse needs the financial assistance to transition from married life and become self-sufficient. However, circumstances may change over a period of time, so the recipient spouse must report any changes in alimony to the relevant social services agency, since it may impact her welfare eligibility and benefits.

Purpose of Spousal Support

In general, alimony, or spousal support, is awarded in California when one spouse is in need of financial support and the other spouse is able to pay. Its purpose is to ensure that the lesser-earning spouse is able to transition from married to single life in a way that does not put her at economic peril. For example, if one spouse stayed at home during the marriage and reared the children while the other spouse worked and financially supported the family, the non-working spouse may need financial support for a period of time after the divorce to obtain the education and skills necessary to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient.

Factors That Influence Alimony Award

To determine whether a spouse is entitled to support, the proper amount and how long the award should last, the court evaluates several factors. These include the length of the marriage; the financial needs and earning capacities of both spouses; the parties' ages and health; debts and assets of both spouses; the ability of the receiving spouse to secure employment and become self-sufficient; and the ability of the obligated spouse to pay. For marriages of less than 10 years, it is customary for California courts to issue spousal support awards up to half the length of the marriage. If a marriage lasted longer than 10 years, the court has discretion in setting the end date.

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Eligibility for Welfare

California operates several social welfare programs that provide assistance to needy persons and families in the state. These include cash, medical and food assistance. To receive these benefits, an applicant must first qualify by demonstrating financial need. The applicant must disclose all sources of income, including spousal support. If the applicant's total income falls below acceptable limits, and she meets all other requirements, she will be approved. However, the benefits she receives may be reduced by the amount of alimony she receives.

Reporting Changes

California permits divorced spouses to return to court and modify an alimony award if circumstances have changed since the order was put in place. Changes may include a loss of employment or reduction in income for the paying spouse, death or disability of one of the parties, and remarriage of the recipient spouse. If alimony is changed in any way, and the recipient spouse is receiving welfare benefits, she must report this change in income, whether an increase, a decrease or termination, to social services since it may affect her continued eligibility or the amount of benefits received.

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References

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Alimony Laws in Kentucky

Alimony, called "maintenance" in Kentucky, may be awarded to one spouse during a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Maintenance is awarded regardless of gender and on a permanent or temporary basis, depending on the financial circumstances of each spouse. The basic eligibility requirements to receive alimony are a lack of assets after division of marital property, or an inability to maintain employment with income sufficient to be self-supporting.

Alimony Laws in Kansas

Alimony, also called spousal support, may be awarded during a divorce proceeding in Kansas. Alimony is paid by one spouse to the other when the receiving spouse has neither a sufficient income nor sufficient assets to be self-supporting when the marriage ends. The Kansas Revised Statutes set forth the types of alimony available, duration of payments and when alimony can be modified or terminated.

Can You Be Ordered to Pay Spousal Support After a Divorce Decree Is Final in Pennsylvania?

Before heading to court or negotiating a divorce settlement, it is essential to understand the timing of alimony payments. You may be ordered to pay temporary alimony while the divorce proceedings are ongoing. After the divorce is finalized, you may be responsible for rehabilitative, compensatory or permanent alimony. Although the other spouse must request alimony during the divorce proceedings, alimony payments ordered in a divorce decree will not begin until the divorce is finalized. After the divorce is finalized and the decree has been entered, you will not be ordered to pay spousal support by a Pennsylvania court.

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