The court generally wants the supported spouse to be self-supportive if they have the earning capacity to maintain the same standard of living during the marriage. However, there are several factors that are taken into consideration by the court when awarding spousal support and determining the duration of the spousal support.


In the State of California, a long term marriage is any marriage over 10 years. In long term marriages, the court will not set a time limit on support. However, the support will remain modifiable based on a change in circumstances for the duration of time that spousal support is being paid. 


Marriages under 10 years are deemed to be short term marriages in California. Therefore, the length of support is generally going to be one half of the length of the marriage. Often, this is included in the judgment as the date of termination of support. In other cases, the parties may indicate that a Request for ORder may be filed once the Judgment has been entered. 


How is Earning Capacity Determined?


Earning capacity is determined by the age and health of the parties, the skills the supported party has, and how the earning capacity is affected by periods of unemployment.


In a trial over spousal support, earning capacity is often determined based on a vocational examination. A vocational examination would be used to show what they would be able to earn. The court would then base the spousal support on this report.


What is Considered During Determination?


There are several considerations when determining a supported spouse’s earning capacity. If the party was a stay-at-home parent for all of the marriage, it may be more difficult for the party to find gainful employment, and the vocational examiner may indicate certain skills or courses the supported spouse may need to complete in order to meet that standard of earning capacity. When the vocational examiner reports a finding that the party does have the requisite skills to.


The judgment may include a Gavron Order, which requires the spouse to find a job and become self-supportive within a reasonable amount of time, should they have that earning capacity. The Court may also consider if the party has dependent children to care for. If the supported party is the primary caregiver, the court may provide the parry with more time before imputing income. 


If you have any questions regarding spousal support, please do not hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a call.