By Betsy Johnsen, JD
Spousal support – sometimes called alimony – is based on many factors. In court a judge uses fourteen factors to determine how much money should be paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. And the 14th factor is “other”! This means a judge has a lot of leeway to decide the amount of spousal support and the length of time it will be paid.
None of these spousal support factors considers whether or not your spouse had an affair, however. The majority of the factors look at how long you were married, what economic sacrifices one spouse made for the other to keep the marriage together, whether there was abuse during the marriage, and the current and future economic resources and needs of both parties.
In fact, California explicitly has a “no-fault” divorce policy, which says that it doesn’t matter who or what caused the marriage to break up. That no-fault policy extends to the area of spousal support. So the fact that your wife had an affair, no matter how hurtful it was emotionally, does not figure into how much spousal support she is likely to receive.
On the other hand, if she was physically or emotionally abusive to you or the children, stole money or did certain other morally corrupt actions, those acts might affect how much spousal support she’d get.
When two parties work together in a Collaborative Divorce process, they can consider all the factors a judge would consider, as well as work on an agreement that satisfies the needs of both parties.