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How do spousal support and child support work in California?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | Family Law

Support payments are a common result after a divorce. The goal of the court when assigning payments is to help one spouse maintain a good financial situation and ensure neither spouse ends up destitute.

The court may order spousal support or alimony and child support. These are two very different payments.

Spousal support

Spousal support is only for those who need it to maintain financial independence or to maintain the lifestyle in which they lived during the marriage if the other spouse can afford to make such payments. It is not mandatory, and the court will not award it in every case.

It can be temporary with a specific end date set by the court or an end date set based upon circumstances. For example, it could end when the receiving spouse gets full-time employment. It will also end upon remarriage of the receiving spouse in most cases regardless of a set end date.

It can also be permanent and last until the receiving spouse dies or remarries.

Child support

Child support is money to help with the care of children. The law requires every parent to be financially responsible for their children. After a divorce or separation, both parents must provide financially for the children.

Child support typically will last until a child turns 18, but it may continue as long as they are in school. The personal and financial situation of the receiving parent will not impact the length of time for support payments unless there is a modification due to a major income change.

Courts will decide spousal support and child support independent of each other. You may receive one and not the other or receive both.