Five Types of Spousal Support in California

Five Types of Spousal Support in California

November 18, 2020

Just like other states, California has a system of spousal support that divorcing couples must consider. Also known as alimony, spousal support is a payment made by one person to another after a divorce. It’s designed to help a person who wasn’t the source of income during a marriage or who made less money during a marriage maintain the quality of life they had before the divorce.

One myth that people have about spousal support is that it’s something used to punish one party involved with a divorce. This isn’t true. Spousal support is meant to be “equalizing” for the finances of both divorcing spouses. To help make spousal support something that meets the needs of most people involved with a divorce, the state of California has five versions of it.

Types of spousal support in California include:

  • Permanent alimony
  • Temporary alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Gross alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony

Of course, the type of alimony a person will pay or receive depends on their situation, their finances, and which version of alimony best meets the needs of their divorce.

Temporary Alimony (Alimony Pendente Lite)

Also known as alimony pendente lite, temporary alimony helps a spouse with less income cover their living expenses during a divorce. Pendete lite is a Latin phrase that means “pending litigation.” Importantly, this type of spousal support doesn’t mean that a person is guaranteed to receive alimony after their divorce proceedings are over. Post-divorce alimony can be very different than alimony pendente lite.

Permanent Alimony

While it’s called permanent alimony, this type of spousal support doesn’t necessarily last forever. Instead, it’s a type of support that’s provided through regular payments for an indefinite amount of time. Permanent alimony can end if either party has a significant change in circumstances.

Gross Alimony

As suggested by the name, gross alimony is spousal support that’s paid in one lump sum. Alimony is often paid in gross when one side of a divorce receives a significant amount of assets during property division. Gross alimony can be used to make this process equal for both parties.

Reimbursement Alimony

During a marriage, a person might have paid for or worked to help their spouse go to school. If this happened during a marriage that’s ending, the paying spouse can seek reimbursement alimony to make back the costs of this process.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is paid to a former spouse who needs help getting on their feet after a marriage. For some, this could mean spousal support that helps pay for needed education. For others, this can mean receiving spousal support to cover the costs of professional training. Rehabilitative alimony is particularly common in instances where one person gave up their career to contribute to the marriage in ways that aren’t financial. For example, a mother who gave up working to raise children and manage a household might be able to seek rehabilitative alimony that’ll help them readjust to unmarried life.

If you have concerns about alimony or need help with a divorce, Edgar & Dow is ready to help. Contact us today at (888) 251-9618 for assistance.


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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