Alimony Criteria: Ability to Pay


Courtney Magner


Faculty editor: Paul Horton
Publication: Contemporary Legal Issues
Volume: 22
Start Page: 222
Month: December
Year: 2015
Type: Article


The supporting spouse’s ability to pay plays a significant role in the determination of whether and how much alimony the supported spouse should be awarded. In assessing the supporting spouse’s ability to pay alimony, California’s divorce courts must take into account his “earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.” They must do so in contested proceedings for alimony pendente lite, for permanent alimony awards, and for modification of prior awards. Although the court has broad discretion in fashioning an alimony award, the court’s failure to take the supporting ex-spouse’s ability to pay explicitly into account is likely to lead to reversal on appeal.