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Orange County Family Law Attorney

Not Everyone Gets Alimony in California Divorce Cases

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

Getting a divorce in California does not necessarily mean alimony is awarded. When in doubt about this provision, speaking to a skilled Orange County divorce attorney will clear up any questions.

“Just because two people decide they want to file for a divorce doesn’t always mean alimony will be a part of the final package. Although many people think that alimony is automatic, this is not the case. What is clear is that there is a great deal of confusion surrounding this issue, and that confusion involves the belief that all divorcing spouses are entitled to alimony,” explained Gerald A. Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California.

While it might make sense to assume that in cases where adultery is the reason for the divorce that the judge will punish the cheater by ordering spousal support, divorce law doesn’t work that way. Another common fallacy is that just because the marriage lasted as long as it did, or didn’t as the case may be, that one of the parties is entitled to support. This too is not the case.

What does happen does then? “First and foremost, the couple is free to make their own arrangement for support payments, if they wish to do so,” added Maggio. If they are able to agree on support, a divorcing couple need to tell the court how much will be paid in support; how long it will last; why it might decrease or increase in the future; and other matters the couple want included in their agreement.

“Coming to an agreement on their own is advantageous to the couple,” Maggio pointed out, “because they can also agree the court will not have the power to change the payment any time despite what the financial situations of either person happens to be.”

While this might sound like it’s an easy thing to do, come to an agreement on spousal support, it is actually one of the more contentious areas in a divorce proceeding. Many couples just cannot agree on anything, never mind an amount for support payments. “In situations like that, California provides specific standards for figuring out how much will be awarded to the ‘receiving’ spouse,” outlined Maggio.

For example, if the couple has been married for less than ten years, alimony/support will usually be required to be paid for five years. In other words, alimony will be required to be paid for half the length of the marriage. “So, in the case of a 30 year marriage, the receiving spouse could conceivably get payments for 15 years,” Maggio indicated. On the other hand, if the marriage lasted for ten or more years, support will be paid until the spouse getting it remarries or dies.

The crux of this issue is how the judge decides on what is a fair alimony payment. Interestingly enough, computers help the judge do this by using software that uses guidelines such as: how much total income each spouse makes; their living expenses (individually); if there are children and how many days the kids spend with each parent; and other factors. “Remember, that if the court is deciding the amount of alimony, they also have the right to change the figures later,” commented Gerald A. Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California.

In most cases, alimony amounts would be changed (if decided by the court) based on a spouse losing their job, declaring bankruptcy or becoming disabled. “This is a two way street,” said Maggio,” in that changes may be made for the receiving spouse if something happens to merit a higher amount.”

When it comes to spousal support, there are various ways this may happen: the parties may seek their own agreement about payments; ask the court to figure them out; or take a pass on it altogether and just go for the divorce. No matter what the decision is, speaking to an Orange Country divorce attorney is the smart thing to do.

Gerald A. Maggio is senior partner of The Maggio Law Firm, Inc., an Orange County and Riverside Divorce and Family Law firm headquartered in Irvine, California. The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in all aspects of divorce and family law matters, including child custody, child support, spousal support, complicated high asset marital property cases, and domestic partnerships.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting

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