Average Alimony Payment in California [2024 Updated]

Average Alimony Payment in California [2024 Updated]

March 19, 2024

Going through a divorce is not easy. The emotional strain and mental distress are bad enough, but you will also likely be facing quite a bit of financial strain as well, depending on whether you have to provide child support or alimony. If you are on the verge of a divorce, you may be wondering what the average alimony payment in California is. You may also want to reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer who can walk you through the alimony process.

Alimony Payments in California

To begin with, there is no real average alimony payment in California. Every divorce case is different and brings with it different assets, liabilities, and alimony amounts decided on by courts of law. A good lawyer can possibly help minimize your alimony payments.

California has a general formula that decides how much alimony is to be paid from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse in the divorce. This formula is not always used to determine alimony, but the judge presiding over the case does have the option to use it.

The formula subtracts half of the lesser-earning spouse’s net monthly income from 40% of the greater-earning spouse’s net monthly income. The number you have left is the amount of alimony that will be paid on a monthly basis to the lower-earning spouse.

What Determines Alimony in California?

Determining alimony payments in a divorce is not an easy process. Many different factors have to be considered when figuring out alimony. Chief among them, alimony cannot go to anyone convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault, or attempted murder against their spouse or their children. Here are some of the other factors that go into an alimony decision:

  • The basic needs of each spouse are based on the standard of living that was available during the marriage
  • The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay alimony
  • The lower-earning spouse’s ability to have a job while also supporting their children
  • The marketable skills of each spouse and how well they can perform in a competitive job market
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Any outstanding debts belonging to either spouse, including debt or assets that exist outside the marriage
  • The entire duration of the marriage
  • Any documented history of domestic violence toward either the spouse or the children
  • Whether the higher-earning spouse contributed financially toward the other spouse’s education
  • Any remaining factors that the judge believes should be considered to reach a fair conclusion

Types of Alimony in California

Under California law, there are really only two kinds of spousal support or alimony. These are temporary and rehabilitative. Both are important for creating a stable home environment for the lower-earning spouse and any children who may be involved.

  • Temporary Support: Temporary support is granted to the lower-earning spouse during the duration of the divorce process. It is often determined via the general formula outlined above and continues until the divorce is finalized. A judge can decide to end it prior to the finalization of the divorce for their own reasons.
  • Rehabilitative Support: Rehabilitative support, or long-term support, is only supposed to last as long as it takes for the lower-earning spouse to do what they need to do to find steady employment and become self-sufficient. A judge can monitor the lower-earning spouse’s progress in seeking a job, enforce a gradual step-down of payments, and end support entirely if they deem it necessary.


Q: How Much Alimony Can a Wife Get in California?

A: The amount of alimony that a wife can get in California is determined entirely by the court, and every divorce case is different. The general formula upon which many alimony amounts are decided is this: Take 40% of the greater-earning spouse’s net monthly income and subtract half of the lesser-earning spouse’s net monthly income from it. That final number is the amount of alimony that the lower-earning spouse will likely receive. It is up to the judge to decide if more or less is deserved.

Q: How Much Do Most People Pay in Alimony?

A: On average, most people who have to pay alimony end up paying the lower-earning spouse around 40% of their net monthly income minus half of their spouse’s income, but that number is different depending on the state law, the judge presiding over the case, and certain factors that are considered when deciding on alimony. You could end up paying 40% of your income, or you might be paying far less. Every situation is different.

Q: What Disqualifies You From Spousal Support in California?

A: Several factors can disqualify you from receiving spousal support in California. These include:

  • Both spouses have enough separate assets to keep themselves afloat without additional alimony payments.
  • The higher-earning spouse has additional financial obligations that keep them from paying alimony.
  • The division of property alone is enough to support both spouses.
  • The lower-earning spouse has a conviction for domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in California?

A: Since California is a no-fault, 50/50 state, in the event of a divorce, a wife is entitled to at least half of the assets acquired during the marriage as well as up to 40% of their spouse’s income for alimony or child support. They can also fight for primary child custody. However, this does not mean that the wife will receive all this in the divorce. Ultimately, a judge will decide whether the wife is entitled to alimony or child support payments.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today

Dealing with a divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. You may feel somewhat humiliated, ashamed, regretful, frustrated, and even mournful of your marriage. If you were the primary breadwinner in the marriage, there is a decent chance you will have to pay your spouse alimony and possibly child support if the judge deems it necessary.

In the event of a divorce, it is crucial that you hire an experienced divorce lawyer who can ensure that you protect yourself. At Edgar & Dow, we can provide you with a sound legal defense that can work to help you reach a successful conclusion to your divorce. Contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as you can.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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