(619) 737-3919
Mon - Fri 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Free 30 min Consultation

Spousal Support in California, law and expectations.


Spousal Support in California and In re Marriage of Ackerman, 146 Cal. App. 4th 191

Spousal Support in California, also known as alimony, has deep historical roots in family law. Traditionally, it was based on the idea that upon divorce, the spouse who was economically dependent or disadvantaged due to the marriage should receive financial assistance from the other spouse. The amount and duration of spousal support have always been two main questions.

Before the 20th century, spousal support was often granted as a form of maintenance, reflecting societal norms that emphasized a husband’s responsibility to financially support his wife. The concept was deeply rooted in gender roles prevalent at the time. Not anymore.

The 20th century saw significant changes in societal attitudes toward marriage, divorce, and gender roles. Legal reforms aimed at promoting gender equality influenced family law, including spousal support provisions. Courts started to recognize the need for fairness in awarding support, considering factors beyond gender.

The introduction of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s marked a pivotal moment. California adopted no-fault divorce, allowing couples to divorce without proving fault. This change shifted the focus from blaming one party to a more equitable approach in addressing financial issues, including spousal support.

The California Family Code, enacted in 1994, further refined spousal support laws. It outlined specific factors that courts should consider when determining spousal support, including the standard of living during the marriage, each party’s needs and abilities, and contributions to the marriage.

In recent years, spousal support laws in California have continued to evolve. Courts consider factors such as the duration of the marriage, the supported spouse’s marketable skills, and the impact of child custody arrangements on spousal support.

Additionally, cases like “In re Marriage of Ackerman, 146 Cal. App. 4th 191” contribute to the ongoing development of spousal support jurisprudence by providing guidance on how courts should approach specific issues.

In re Marriage of Ackerman – background: This case involved a dispute over spousal support following the dissolution of a marriage. During the divorce proceedings, the trial court assessed the value of the husband’s medical practice and granted child and spousal support to the wife. The husband, a plastic surgeon, operated his medical practice as a sole proprietorship. Throughout the marriage, the wife, who holds a law degree, did not engage in employment. The court’s ruling provided significant guidance on the factors to be considered when determining the amount and duration of spousal support.

Factors Considered by the Court (also see California Family Code Section 4320):

  1. Income Disparities: Ackerman highlighted the importance of examining the income disparities between the spouses. The court acknowledged that the primary purpose of spousal support is to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining a standard of living reasonably close to that enjoyed during the marriage.
  2. Duration of the Marriage: The court in Ackerman emphasized the role of the duration of the marriage in spousal support decisions. Longer marriages tend to create a greater degree of financial interdependence, influencing the court’s considerations.
  3. Standard of Living: Maintaining the standard of living established during the marriage emerged as a crucial factor. Ackerman recognized the need to balance the supported spouse’s right to enjoy a similar lifestyle with the paying spouse’s ability to meet their own needs.
  4. Health and Age of Parties: The health and age of each spouse were deemed relevant by the court. Ackerman recognized that health issues or advanced age might impact a spouse’s ability to support themselves financially.
  5. Contributions to Career or Education: The case underscored the significance of contributions made by one spouse to the other’s career or education during the marriage. Such contributions could influence the court’s decision on spousal support.
  6. Child Custody and Support: Ackerman acknowledged the interplay between spousal support and child custody matters. The court recognized that the custodial parent’s financial needs could be affected by child custody arrangements.
  7. Employability of the Supported Spouse: The court in Ackerman considered the employability of the supported spouse, taking into account their skills, education, and job opportunities. This factor plays a crucial role in determining the duration and amount of spousal support.

Ackerman laid the foundation for a holistic analysis of spousal support issues, recognizing that no single factor should dominate the court’s decision. Instead, the court emphasized the need for a comprehensive evaluation of the circumstances unique to each case.

The court in Ackerman emphasized that spousal support determinations must be fair and just, aiming to strike a balance between the financial needs of the supported spouse and the paying spouse’s ability to meet those needs. This approach aligns with the broader objective of family law, which seeks to achieve equitable outcomes in the face of the complexities inherent in marital dissolution.

In conclusion, the case of In re Marriage of Ackerman has significantly contributed to the understanding of spousal support issues in California family law. By examining the factors considered in Ackerman, individuals navigating divorce proceedings and legal professionals alike can gain valuable insights into the nuanced considerations that influence spousal support determinations. While Ackerman provides essential guidance, it’s crucial for individuals facing divorce to seek legal advice tailored to their specific circumstances to ensure a fair and just resolution of spousal support matters.


DISCLAIMER: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer/law firm publisher for educational purposes ONLY as well as to give you general information, not to provide specific legal advice. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

Please contact me at 619-737-3919 to schedule a 30-minute initial complimentary consultation to discuss your personal situation.

Divorce Lawyer Maria Rogova This Blog/Web Site constitutes advertisement materials and is meant for the residents of the State of California only. By using this Blog/Web Site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The materials presented in the Blog/Web Site may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. The Law Office of Maria Rogova is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this Blog/Web Site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this Blog/Web Site under any circumstances.

Related Posts


Ms. Rogova, who is bilingual English-Russian, earned her law degrees from American and Russian universities. She earned her Russian law degree in 2003 and practiced law in Russia for over 7 years. Ms. Rogova has a broad range of legal experience in Russia such as contract litigation, corporate law, arbitration, real estate, and labor law. In addition to her law degree, in 2007 Ms. Rogova earned a Master of Finance degree.

Recent Articles

Navigating Divorce and Child Custody
Navigating Divorce and Child Custody
November 2, 2023
Is it mandatory to meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in California?
October 25, 2022
Children are not toys in your divorce process!
September 14, 2021