Spousal Support (also called Alimony)
In California, the popular term “alimony” has been renamed “spousal support.”
You must first recognize that you have a legal obligation to support your spouse.
When a couple legally separates or divorces, the court may order one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other a certain amount of support money each month. This is called “spousal support” for married couples and “partner support” in domestic partnerships. It is sometimes also called “alimony.”
Spousal support will be addressed differently by the court depending upon when it is to be provided. There are two different periods where support may be asked for, and the rules pertaining to each are very different.
In order for spousal or partner support to be legally established and officially start, there must be a court case.
A spouse or domestic partner can ask the judge to make a spousal or partner support order as part of one of these types of cases:
- Divorce, legal separation, or annulment; or
- A domestic violence restraining order.
You can ask for spousal or partner support to be paid while your case is going on. This is called a “temporary spousal support order” or a “temporary partner support order.” Support can also be ordered once the divorce or legal separation becomes final, as part of the final divorce or separation judgment. When it is ordered once the case becomes final, it is called “permanent (or long-term) spousal or partner support.”