Reasons a California Family Court Might Not Award Alimony
When a married couple gets divorced in California, it’s not uncommon for a court to award alimony. This ensures a spouse who earns a lower income or has less earning capacity has the financial support they need to care for themselves.
However, it’s important to understand that a court won’t always award alimony. There are several potential reasons a judge may determine that alimony isn’t necessary. The following are a few common examples:
A Very Short Marriage
The duration of a marriage is one of the most significant factors a court will account for when making a determination about alimony in California. If a marriage didn’t last very long, a court might not award alimony.
Equal Earning Capacity
Often, a court will award alimony because one spouse has greater earning capacity than the other. For example, perhaps one spouse earned degrees and professional licenses while the other one supported them during their marriage.
If that marriage ends, the spouse who didn’t earn any such degrees or licenses may be at a financial disadvantage, as they would be less likely to secure gainful employment for themselves in the immediate future.
However, it’s becoming increasingly common for two spouses in a marriage to have relatively equal earning capacity. If both spouses have the same potential to secure employment, a court might be less likely to award alimony.
Lack of Non-Financial Contributions
Courts strive to properly evaluate the contributions both parties made to a marriage when deciding if alimony should be awarded. In many marriages, even if only one party makes the primary financial contributions, the other party might nevertheless contribute to the marriage by raising children, supporting the other spouse while they receive an education, caring for the home, etc.
There are some instances in which it can be argued that neither spouse made significant non-financial contributions to marriage. This is another reason to potentially decide not to award alimony.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming a spouse can simply “game the system” and receive alimony by refusing to get a job and provide for themselves. Again, the goal of the court is to accurately determine the true earning capacity of both parties in a divorce in order to accurately determine whether one spouse needs financial support to transition to single life.
If a spouse could get a job, but they decide not to, that’s not a valid reason for them to collect alimony. A court will ideally account for this.
It’s also worth noting that divorce in California involves the division of marital property. Sometimes, when marital property has been divided, a court will judge that this constitutes sufficient financial support for a spouse who might otherwise be eligible to receive alimony.
Just remember, these are complex matters. If you’re getting a divorce in California, one of the best ways to simplify the experience is to ensure you have proper legal representation. At Baghdaserians Law Group, a Pasadena divorce attorney can guide you through the process, while answering any questions you may have about alimony. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at (626) 460-9525.