San Bernardino Spousal Support Lawyer


Even under the most amicable circumstances, a divorce can be an emotionally taxing and legally complex process. And, let’s be honest, most divorces do not occur under the most amicable circumstances. One of the legal complexities that can cause divorcing couples the most stress and uncertainty, and one of the most crucial aspects of divorce cases in San Bernardino, is the concept of spousal support or alimony.

Alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal support, is a court order for financial support that one ex-spouse may be ordered to pay the other pursuant to a divorce. The fundamental purpose behind a spousal support order is to maintain the standard of living of the spouse who has less income or earning potential. The basic idea is that the lower-earning spouse should be sufficiently supported so that they can maintain the quality of life they were accustomed to during the marriage, at least until they can sustain themselves. This is similar to the concept of child support, but spousal support and child support are calculated and ordered individually.

At the Edgar & Dow, we understand the stress and sensitivity that comes with spousal support issues. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing clear, honest, compassionate, and highly effective legal advice to those going through the difficult process of ending a marriage.


For an extremely quick estimate of what a spousal support payment might look like, take 40% of the paying spouse’s (usually the higher earner’s) monthly income and then reduce that amount by 50% of the receiving spouse’s monthly income. Some courts will even use generic equations like this to order temporary support until the divorce runs its course and a longer-term spousal support order can be put in place.

In reality, this and other equations for estimating alimony will only give you a very rough starting point because spousal support payments can look quite different from case to case, even among couples with similar incomes. California courts consider many factors before awarding spousal support payments to one party or the other in a divorce. Some of the key factors that the court will look at include:

  • Each Party’s Financial Needs and Obligations – The court must accurately assess each spouse’s financial needs based on the standard of living that was established during the marriage.
  • Each Party’s Earning Capacity – One of the most essential pieces of the formula is an obvious one: how much money is each spouse currently making? And how much are they likely to make in the future, based on their skills and work history?
  • The Duration of the Marriage – Most spousal support payments are not ordered in perpetuity, which is to say the payments will cease someday. The length of time for which spousal support payments will be ordered usually depends on the length of the marriage itself (the idea being that someone exiting from a longer marriage will need more time to adjust to single life).
  • Child Care Factors – The court will also take into consideration whether a custodial parent engaging in gainful employment would unduly interfere with the interests or safety of their dependent children.
  • Age and Health Conditions – An underlying health condition or approaching old age could conceivably affect someone’s earning ability in the future, and this must be factored in as well.
  • Any History of Domestic Violence – Because it is not something you can easily place a dollar value on, some people are surprised to learn that domestic violence or spousal abuse issues can also significantly impact a spousal support order. It is crucial that this history of abuse be well documented, such as through previous criminal or civil proceedings.
  • Tax Implications – Particularly for high-value couples dividing large or complex assets, the potential tax impact of spousal support arrangements will also need to be considered.
  • Hardships – Personal hardships that could impact a spousal support order may take many potential forms, but usually, the hardship in question will have some financial consequence in order to be considered by the court in alimony calculations.
  • There are several other specific factors listed under California Family Code Section 4320, and the court additionally retains the authority to consider other factors they deem relevant from case to case.

Alimony Lawyer FAQs

Q: What Is the Minimum Spousal Support in California?

A: There is no “minimum” spousal support amount set by law in the state of California, and indeed, no one is entitled to spousal support merely for divorcing their spouse. Spousal support payments are carefully considered by California court authorities, and the exact amount ordered is based on many factors (summarized above).

Q: How Do I Get Out of Paying Spousal Support in California?

A: You cannot simply “get out” of paying your spousal support, as it is a legally binding court order that carries serious penalties for failing to comply. Having a spousal support order modified or terminated in the state of California will require you to petition the court to reopen the matter and adjust or nullify the order. To do this successfully, you may need to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances with relevant financial implications since the original order was enacted. As anyone who has experienced divorce knows, life is always changing. When it does, the talented spousal support lawyers at the Edgar & Dow can help you develop and carry out an airtight legal strategy for getting an old support order modified in your favor.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get Spousal Support in California?

A: The timeframe to begin receiving spousal support can vary from case to case, depending on how fast your divorce proceedings move along. If the parties can collaborate on key matters out of court, such as through third-party arbitration services, their agreements can be approved by the court and carried out quite quickly. More contentious divorces requiring one or more hearings can result in many weeks passing before a spousal support order is put in place. A temporary order can sometimes be granted in the meantime if sufficient need is demonstrated.

Q: Can You Fight Spousal Support in California?

A: Yes, the law provides avenues for you to contest spousal support in the state of California. You can fight the initial order by bringing a good legal strategy into your divorce. A divorce, at its core, is much like any other court case, wherein both sides will be given the chance to fully state their case and present the judge with evidence in their favor. You can also fight an order after it is handed down by petitioning the court to revisit the matter and adjust or rescind the order.


If you’re going through a divorce and spousal support payments have you concerned, protect yourself with a top-notch legal strategy from the divorce team at the Edgar & Dow. We have a track record of success guiding our San Bernardino clients through even the most complex and contentious of divorces, and we are ready to put our skills to work for you. Contact our offices today for a no-obligation consultation.

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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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