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What’s the Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support?

by David Lederman
Apr 30, 2024
spousal support

If you are divorcing in California, you may be eligible to receive alimony, or spousal support, from your spouse. Spousal support is available to a spouse who does not work or has a much lower income than the other spouse. The goal of alimony is fairness, helping the lower-income spouse obtain the necessary education or training so they can obtain a higher-paying job and get back on their feet.

However, spousal support is not automatic in California or any other state. Not everyone needs it. If both spouses make six figures, for example, then it will likely not be necessary. In a divorce, the court will look at the assets and income and both parties.

If the person is eligible for support, there are two main types: temporary and permanent support. Here is a look at these two types.

Temporary vs. Permanent Spousal Support

Temporary support, as the name implies, does not last forever. It is a form of short-term financial support to assist a party as they go through the divorce proceedings. Temporary support is ordered by the court and is a monthly payment given from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning one to assist with expenses while the divorce case is in progress. 

The purpose of temporary spousal support is to ensure that both spouses can meet their financial needs during the transition period between separation and divorce. It is usually based on factors such as the income disparity between them, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and each one’s financial needs and ability to pay.

The amount of temporary support can be determined through negotiation between the divorcing couple. If they cannot come to an agreement, then the judge will determine the amount via a court order. Some judges may use a formula. A common one is:

Monthly support = 40% higher earner’s net monthly income – 50% lower earner’s net monthly income  

Again, temporary support is not mandatory or automatic. The divorcing party with the lower income has to request it by filing a motion with the court. As soon as a divorce case is filed, the spouse can ask the court to order spousal support. The amount is subject to modification based on changes in cir