Finding a sense of financial security after divorce can be challenging, but it is far from impossible. While paying careful attention to things like property division is a good first step when preserving finances, it is not the only worthwhile approach. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for spousal support payments.

Popular forms of entertainment have done a fairly good job of stigmatizing spousal support. However, support payments are often vital to the financial health of certain individuals after a divorce. For example, if you gave up your job to support your spouse’s career, stayed home to care for children or other relatives, or simply did not earn as much, spousal support — also called alimony — may be the lifeline you need.

Do I qualify for support?

There are two ways in which you can secure spousal support payments. The first way is if you and your spouse mutually agree to support payments as part of your divorce settlement agreement. The second is if a judge orders your ex to pay alimony. Some factors a judge may look at when considering support include:

  • Both you and your ex’s age, physical condition and overall finances
  • Your ex’s earning ability
  • Length of your marriage
  • Standard of living during your marriage

Standard of living is especially important if you and your ex have drastically different incomes. If you were accustomed to an exceptionally high standard of living but have a low earning capacity, a judge might be more inclined to order spousal support. A judge is also more likely to order more spousal support for someone accustomed to a high standard of living versus a low standard of living.

Different types of spousal support

California family law includes a variety of different types of support. For example, if you have yet to finalize your divorce, a judge may order temporary alimony. You might also be familiar with some of these other types of spousal support:

  • Lump-sum alimony
  • Permanent alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony

The different types of alimony all serve different purposes based on your needs as well as preferences. If you and your ex do not want future support payments to tie you together, lump-sum alimony might work well. One thing to keep in mind is that this type of alimony may be in lieu of your property settlement, so you should be sure to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

How do I enforce payments?

It can be frustrating to wait for spousal support payments that never show up. If your ex is refusing to pay, you may need to go to court for an enforcement. While this may feel frustrating and time-consuming, getting your payments back on track is essential to your overall financial health.

No one wants to come out on the other side of divorce in a worse financial place than they were before. Taking clear, definitive steps to preserve your financial stability is a key component of a successful divorce, of which spousal support is just one of several factors. Learning more about California family law is often helpful to those hoping to learn more about surviving divorce financially.