Can I Get Alimony While the Divorce Is Pending?

Alimony, or spousal support, can provide an indispensable source of income for someone after a divorce. It is something a judge may award one spouse during and/or after a divorce case if that person would otherwise suffer negatively from an income disparity with the other spouse. In a case where one spouse financially cuts the other off during divorce proceedings, such as after separation, the latter spouse could be eligible for temporary alimony in California. Temporary alimony is a payment one spouse makes to the other during a divorce, while it is still pending.

Who Is Eligible for Alimony in California?

The courts do not award everyone spousal support in California divorce cases. This is a special award the receiving spouse must petition to receive. The spouse petitioning for alimony must prove his or her need to a judge. The decision to grant a temporary or permanent award is largely up to the judge. The courts will carefully consider multiple factors before granting or denying a petition for temporary or permanent spousal support.

  • The earning capacity of each party and its ability to allow the spouse to maintain the standard of living he or she had during the marriage.
  • The marketable skills of the party requesting alimony, as well as the current job market for those skills and how much it would cost to enhance the party’s skillset.
  • Whether unemployment periods during the marriage (e.g. to have or care for children) might negatively impact future earning capacity.
  • The extent to which the petitioning party contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, career or licensure.
  • The ability of the other spouse to afford spousal support, considering that party’s income, assets, standard of living and capacity to earn.

A judge will also look at the length to the marriage, the needs of each party, each spouse’s age and health, the ability to find gainful employment, child custody, a history of domestic violence, criminal convictions, and hardships each party may face in a spousal support decision. A judge has the power to look at any factor he or she believes is relevant to the decision. The judge will then make a choice based on his or her findings.

How to File for Alimony During a Pending Divorce Case

The courts in California do not only reserve spousal support for after a divorce. Someone may qualify for alimony during an ongoing divorce case if he or she can prove financial need. A judge may issue an order for temporary support for the duration of the divorce process if the petitioner is having trouble paying for childcare, health care, housing or the costs of the divorce, for example. If the higher-earning spouse refuses to pay for these expenses during a divorce case, the other spouse may have grounds to request temporary alimony from a judge.

An order of temporary spousal maintenance could force the higher-earning spouse to continue contributing to household needs and other expenses through a monthly or lump-sum payment. Upon finalization of the divorce, the judge may order to cease the temporary support order or continue it after the divorce. The spouse may receive a permanent alimony order if the judge believes enough financial need exists to justify this decision.

The amount one spouse receives in alimony during a divorce case, if any, will depend on the specific financial needs of the petitioner and the income of the supporting spouse. If you believe you should be eligible to receive alimony from your spouse during a divorce case, petition the courts with help from an attorney. A lawyer can help you prove your financial need and your spouse’s ability to pay alimony to a judge in California. A lawyer can also help you fight for permanent alimony after the finalization of a divorce.