After a divorce, many spouses claim alimony to help support them. Especially if the marriage was very long or the spouse has increased medical costs from a disability or old age, the court may consider alimony necessary. While some states may consider unfaithfulness in their alimony calculation, California is not likely to do so. The Ventura divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain how cheating factors into alimony in California and why the law does not typically consider adultery in spousal support cases.
Does California Consider Adultery when Calculating Spousal Support?
Spousal support, or “alimony,” is paid to support a spouse financially after a divorce. In many states, courts consider a spouse’s fault in causing the divorce as a factor in the alimony decision. In these states, the theory goes that if the spouse caused the divorce, they do not necessarily deserve alimony – or they should be punished by paying additional alimony. In those states, a court will often consider things like abuse, adultery, or abandonment when calculating alimony.
In California, all divorces are “no-fault” divorces. Instead of looking at cheating or other mistakes that caused the divorce, the court looks only at the fact that the couple has “irreconcilable differences” that justify getting divorced. Since the court does not look at fault at all, it does not look at fault in alimony decisions.
Instead of looking at unfaithfulness or cheating, the court looks only at the hard financial factors in the case. Primarily, this means looking at the spouse’s needs and abilities and determining how much alimony to award them – or whether they need it at all.
Why Doesn’t Unfaithfulness Factor into Alimony in California?
The purpose of alimony is generally to support a spouse after the marriage ends. If one spouse was the “breadwinner” and the other spouse relied on their financial support during the marriage, they may not have the job training or skills to jump back into the job market and support themselves after a divorce. Alternatively, – at the very least – they might need some time to get job training or education before they can be expected to support themselves again. Alimony can pay for their spousal support while they get back on their feet – or on a permanent, ongoing basis if they really need it.
Alongside this purpose, spousal support has a secondary goal: helping spouses get divorced without fearing financial repercussions. There is no reason that someone should stay in an unhappy marriage, especially if their spouse is emotionally or physically abusive or causes other serious problems. Alimony allows a spouse to get divorced without fearing that they will become poor or lose their financial support.
In systems without no-fault divorce, many people feel trapped in their marriage. If those spouses are required to prove fault before the court will grant their divorce, they may not have the grounds to sue for divorce or they may be unable to prove something as intimate and private as cheating. Similarly, spouses whose mistakes could prevent them from getting the support they need may be more likely to stay in a marriage they want out of so that they can have financial security.
If you cheated on your spouse and that mistake could be used against you to reduce your spousal support, you may be more likely to stay married, continue to hide your unfaithfulness, and choose financial security over happiness. California is against this practice, and the law makes it easier to be clear and open and still get the alimony you need instead of trapping you in a bad marriage. To do this, California only considers need-based factors and financial factors, not fault or blame.
California Alimony and Spousal Support Factors
When you file for alimony in California, the court needs to decide whether you need alimony in the first place and, if they do grant you alimony, how much alimony you need. There are many factors the court uses in this decision, though cheating is not one of them. Instead, the court looks at the following factors:
- How long you were married
- The standard of living you were accustomed to during your marriage
- Each party’s current salary
- Each party’s assets, needs, and debts
- Each party’s marketable skills that they could use at a job
- The training and education the recipient needs before they can get a stable job
- Whether the recipient paid for the alimony payor’s education or professional license to help them attain the position and salary they have now
- The amount of time the recipient has to work while for their children
- Any medical or mental health needs or disabilities that make it hard to work or require additional financial support
- Any other relevant factors
The court uses these same factors in making both decisions. This means that there is a first threshold decision to see if alimony is necessary based on these factors, then, going back, the court decides how much alimony to order. For help seeking alimony as part of your divorce case, contact an attorney.
Ventura, CA Alimony Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you are getting divorced and are considering seeking alimony, talk to one of our Ventura family law attorneys for help with your case. Our lawyers can provide you with the legal advice and representation you need to apply for alimony and support your claim. In any case, do not fear that cheating or unfaithfulness will be used against you in your alimony claim since this is not typically an alimony factor in California. For a free legal consultation on your case, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 585-5056.