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First tutorial video in a seven part series explaining the laws regarding alimony (spousal support) in California. This first video is an introduction to basic issues and explains how the amount of alimony is determined.

“Alimony” and spousal support are the same thing. Judges and lawyers in California call it spousal support, while the general public calls it alimony.

There are two main issues when it comes to spousal support: 1) Amount to be paid; and 2) Duration of the payments.

The ability to deduct spousal support was altered under the tax laws enacted by Congress in 2018, laws that many people refer to as the Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA). Under the old laws, spousal support was tax deductible by the payor and was taxable income to the recipient. Under the new laws, spousal support is not deductible by the payor and not taxable income to the recipient. The new laws were enacted in 2018. Spousal support orders made before December 31, 2018 will be “grandfathered” in.

In order to understand how much spousal support should be paid, you need to understand that there two different types of spousal support and the method the court uses for determining the amount of each type of support is very different. The two types of spousal support are: 1) temporary spousal support; and 2) long term spousal support.

Temporary spousal support is the amount of support that is paid from the beginning of the divorce process until you reach a settlement or go to trial.

The spousal support that is paid after a final settlement agreement is negotiated or after a trial does not have a special name, but we are going to refer to it as “long term spousal support”, even if the support may not be paid for very long.

Since temporary spousal support is not going to be in effect for a very long period of time, the courts want a quick and simple method for calculating the amount that should be paid. The courts use a software program (DissoMaster) to calculate temporary spousal support, just like they use a software program to calculate child support.

The formula for calculating temporary spousal support varies from county to county. If you are using a support software program to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support, make sure you adjust the settings of the program for your particular county.

Most courts in California use the DissoMaster computer software program to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support.

The amount and duration of “long term” spousal support is determined after the court hears testimony on the various factors set forth in Family Code section 4320.

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