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Divorces for California couples do not have to be acrimonious. In fact, prior posts on this family law legal blog have discussed the benefits of divorcing in a mediated process. When couples can work together and agree on the support, custody, and property division matters related to their separation, such two-way procedures can be healthy ways to end their marriage.

Not all divorces can or should be mediated, however. When couples cannot agree about some or all of the elements of their marital dissolution they often need courtroom intervention to come to resolutions to their differences. One factor that can be a point of contention between partners is alimony.

Alimony is a legal obligation between former partners wherein one partner pays financial support to the other for a period of time following the marriage. In some situations a person may feel that it is unfair that he or she must pay an ex when that former spouse could get a job. However, under the law courts generally want to give individuals who do not work or who have not worked in a long period of time an opportunity to prepare themselves to re-enter the workforce with marketable skills.

In such a situation a court may award one spouse support for a period of time long enough for the support-receiving spouse to become retrained to acquire a job. Retraining may occur in the form of higher education, job skills courses, or other types of experiences that improve a person’s workplace knowledge. However, as every divorce is different, courts must look at a couple’s support situation and assess it based on the facts of the circumstances as they present themselves.

Alimony is intended to provide for one partner after he or she divorces an income-earning spouse. The duration of alimony payments can vary from divorce to divorce. To learn more about how a specific legal situation may be resolved in court, interested individuals may choose to seek their own counsel and should not rely on this post as specific legal advice.