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Determining whether alimony should be paid

When a couple in Westminster chooses to get a divorce, both parties might assume that one side will automatically be awarded alimony. Yet that is not always the case. Alimony is only meant to be a means of assistance to help a financially disadvantaged spouse get back on their feet. In this particular context, "financially disadvantaged" means not able to secure gainful employment (or employment that offers an income that would allow them to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while married). Thus, court reviews several factors when deciding whether the awarding of spousal support is warranted. 

According to Section 4320 of the California Family Code, these factors include: 

  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living achieved during the marriage
  • The assets and liabilities of each party after the division of marital property 
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The immediate tax obligations of each party
  • Whether or not domestic abuse occurred during the marriage
  • How the expectation of a parent returning to work might affect their obligations to care for their kids. 

Other elements such as whether the spouse seeking alimony sacrificed their own professional ambitions to support the others (or took on added responsibilities to that the other could complete schooling or vocational training are also considered. 

Typically, alimony is not meant to be a permanent source of financial support. An alimony agreement will often contain contingencies dictating the circumstances of when it should end. If those contingencies are met yet the party receiving alimony fails to report that, they are in violation of the law. Per Section 7334 of California's state statutes, the penalty for such a violation would be that the supported party would have to repay whatever payments were received after the date the contingencies are proven to have occurred. 

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