If you are getting a divorce, you automatically pay alimony (or receive spousal support), right?

Not quite.
There are a lot of misconceptions and myths floating around about alimony. Going into your divorce without understanding the actual facts about this process is a recipe for disaster. Take a look at some of the most common myths about alimony and the actual facts behind each. Fully understanding how spousal support works – and how it does not work – allows you to be prepared and to get the best possible outcome for yourself and your children. Busting these alimony myths will help you get a better understanding of how spousal support works.
Myth: Alimony is Automatic

The Facts: Alimony is just one part of a complex divorce process; it does not happen automatically. Being awarded alimony will depend on a variety of factors. The final amount awarded will depend on variables like: your income,your former spouse’s income, your assets, standard of living, and tasks you’ve performed in the marriage.

Myth: You have a Right to Alimony

The Facts: While you have the potential to receive alimony, it is different from child support. A parent may be obligated to provide for their child, but not for their former spouse. Many factors will be used to determine if you are eligible for alimony. The amount you’ll receive and even the duration of time you’ll be able to receive alimony varies in each situation.

Myth: Alimony is Forever

The Facts: The court will determine how long your alimony will last. Spousal support is determined by the court using guidelines from California Family Code 4336 and has specific rules about the length of time your former spouse will need to pay. If your financial situation changes, your former spouse’s financial information changes, or the court rules you no longer need support, your alimony could end. The length of your marriage does not ensure a specific amount of alimony; some people believe that 10 years of marriage automatically leads to unlimited alimony, but that is not the case.

Myth: There’s a Magic Alimony Calculator

The Facts: There is no one size fits all formula for alimony. From the amount of time you’ve been married to the work you’ve done to support your household financially and domestically, your spousal support will be as unique as you are. A family law attorney can give you some insight into the process and ensure you understand what to expect; the best way to get a firm idea about spousal support is to talk with your lawyer.

Myth: You Should Avoid Paying Alimony if at all Possible

The Facts: If you are ordered to pay alimony, that money could be going to maintain your family home or other assets; it could also be used to ensure that your former spouse is still available to care for your children. Avoiding disruption to the lives of your kids is one of the most important reasons to pay alimony; if you plan on eventually selling your family home, then ensuring that the spouse who lives in it can actually maintain it can protect your investment.

Myth: Alimony Leads to an Angry, Messy Divorce

The facts: Alimony is just one aspect of your divorce, and one you should be aware of, whether you are the potential recipient or the one handing over the cash. Other assets, debts, and factors matter too. The fact that your case may include alimony does not mean it will be a difficult or acrimonious process.

If you are getting divorced or are considering the process and want to know how spousal support would work, we can help. Contact us to free consultation from a  California family law attorney about your specific situation and to get an idea of what to expect from the process.