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California Law On Spousal and Child Support


California Family Code Section 4336(a) says that where marriage is “of long duration,” the court “retains jurisdiction.” So what is long duration? How long does a couple need to be married for the court to award spousal support? What are the other factors affecting spousal awards? What, exactly, is “child support” anyway?

The California Family Law code does draw attention to a five year span and a ten year span. If a marriage lasts less than ten years, spousal support may be available for five years. If a marriage lasts longer than ten years, the continuation of spousal support may be indefinite. Specific on the surface, there are other factors that change the results.

Here are a few of the many factors a court will consider in determining a spousal support award:

– earning capacity, including wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, and disability payments
– rental income
– interest and dividends
– pensions
– any past support a husband/wife provided allowing a husband or wife to complete college, advanced degrees or career training
– the standard of living during the marriage
– assets and separate property
– the length of the marriage
– ability to gain employment
– age and health condition of the parties
– history of domestic violence

Permanent spousal support is often reserved for spouses who can’t work due to age or disability. Consider that different counties have different spousal awards in the state of California.

The legal definition of child support is “… a parent’s legal obligation to contribute to the financial care and costs of raising his or her child.” ( Both parents have a legal duty to support their children and a family court judge can require one or both parents to cover a portion of a child’s day-to-day and medical expenses. In previous decades, it was unheard of for a woman not to retain physical custody of a divorced couple’s children. Now? Not so much.

Either parent can win a custody battle, and either parent can be ordered to pay child support. There is a mandatory minimum amount of child support. You can estimate the award by completing browsing to the State of California’s Child Support Worksheet.

The child support award may be decreased if the parent who is paying support remarries, has children with his or her new spouse, and is also financially responsible for children from that new relationship.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice on any of the information in this post, please contact one of our attorneys. Browse our attorney profiles or contact us by phone: (805) 749-5670.

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