The idea of providing ongoing financial support to an ex-spouse can be uncomfortable, but it is often a necessary aspect of divorce. Alimony -- commonly referred to as spousal support -- is intended to limit any potentially unfair economic aftermath of a divorce. A California family law judge might order that one person pay support, or a couple may come to an agreement on the matter by themselves.
The factors that go into determining whether alimony is appropriate are varied. Courts will usually consider the length of a couple's marriage and each respective person's income, but there is more to it than that. A person's age, emotional state and physical condition might also be considered, and judges often look at whether an individual might need job training before re-entering the workforce.
In general, alimony is a temporary measure meant to provide rehabilitative support. This means that it should only last as long as it takes the recipient to become financially independent and stable. In some circumstances, though, a person might receive alimony without any specific termination date, making it seemingly indefinite. These arrangements usually end either after the payer's death or if the recipient remarries.
Although it is an important part of reaching financial stability after a divorce, recipients do not always receive their payments in a timely manner. Indeed, many people in California go significant periods of time without seeing anything in terms of support. While this can be frustrating, most people can address this issue by returning to court to ask for either enforcement or a modification of their current alimony order.