San Francisco Family Law Specialists of Heath Newton Counselors at Law Answer Five FAQs About Alimony in California

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Heath Newton Counselors at Law share the top five most frequently asked questions about California alimony laws.

Heath Newton Counselors at Law answer the five most frequently asked questions regarding California spousal support cases.

The San Francisco divorce attorneys of Heath Newton LLP have recently discussed some of the most commonly asked questions regarding alimony cases in California on its family law blog at

Question 1: How is alimony calculated in California?

Answer: Typically during the initial stages of the divorce process in California, the most common formula is: 40% of the higher earning spouse’s income minus 50% of the lower earning spouse’s income equals the spousal support amount.

As the divorce course of action progresses, many other factors are taken into consideration including standards of living, duration of the marriage, earning potential on both sides and more.

Question 2: How long does alimony last in California?

Answer: Duration of spousal support is determined on a number of factors, mainly length of the marriage. If a marriage lasts for 10 years or more, it is considered a “long-term marriage” and spousal support is usually set for a fixed period of time, with a conditional termination date or indefinitely.

A marriage lasting less than 10 years is considered a “short term marriage” and the duration of spousal support typically lasts about half of the the marriage length. For example, an eight year marriage would garner 4 years of spousal support.

Question 3: Can California spousal support be modified?

Answer: Yes. Unless there was an agreement established barring modifications in the divorce proceedings, as life situations for either party changes, requests can certainly be made and fulfilled.

For example, if the payee of spousal support has a loss of income, a case can be made to reduce the amount of spousal support received by the other party.

Question 4: Does Alimony End if My Spouse Gets Remarried or Cohabitates?

Answer: In most cases, marital settlement agreements or court orders mandate that alimony responsibility ends upon death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse.

Question 5: Can Alimony Be Paid in a Lump Sum, Instead of Monthly?

Yes. It is quite common that both parties want to end things with a clean break instead of having to keep up with monthly payments and add more stress to their day to day lives. If both parties come to an agreement on this, a lump sum is an easy and fair way to go.

To learn how California community property and marital law apply to your individual situation or if you want to learn more about prenuptial agreements, we invite you to consult with one of our qualified family law attorneys. Email info(at)heathnewton(dot)com or call (415) 398-1290. We look forward to hearing from you and, again, congratulations on your pending marriage – we wish you, and the person you love, a happy future.

About Heath Newton LLP:

Heath-Newton LLP specializes in family law, asset protection and estate planning services. Based in San Francisco, their boutique firm has earned a reputation for managing their clients’ cases well, reaching successful resolutions — and minimizing costs and disruption to their clients’ lives.

They have handled a long list of family-law cases, including a broad range of issues facing new families (such as domestic partnerships, premarital agreements, adoption and more), as well as divorce, asset division, child custody and child and spouse support. They also have extensive experience in San Francisco estate planning, wills, probate, mediation, living wills and trusts.

Collectively, their attorneys have thousands of hours of experience, allowing them to be both efficient and effective. They are guided by a practical approach that emphasizes avoiding litigation to minimize costs and disruption; however, they can and will be fierce litigators when all other strategies have proven ineffective. For more information visit their website at To discuss a situation with one of their attorneys, please call them at (415) 398-1290.

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Felix Chen
Heath-Newton LLP
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