Legal Question in Family Law in California

My sister got divorced from her husband in 1998 (he served the papers). Does he have to pay her alimony for the balance of her life? He stopped paying in 2006 claiming she was "misusing" the money. He was paying half the mortgage on her house, and then upon stopping payment, my folks were forced to pay the whole thing. It's a friend of mine's contention, that she must receive alimony as long as she's alive or hasn't remarried and can use the alimony for whatever she wants.

Asked on 12/17/11, 1:15 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Schneider Family Law Center

Well alimony is generally for half the length of the marriage unless it is a marriage in excess of 10 years. Also, a lot depends in what was in the divorce judgment. If he stopped paying in 2006, I am surprised she is waiting so long to address this. She needs to get a copy of her judgment and bring it to a qualified family law attorney to review.

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Answered on 12/17/11, 1:28 pm

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

Mr. Schneider is correct. The duration of alimony is set out in the judgment granting alimony. It must terminate upon remarriage, and it is the public policy of the state of California that divorced spouses become self-supporting, so it is also rarely for life. The ex-spouse who is paying, however, does not have the right to just stop paying unless the time for payments to end in the judgment arrives, or the receiving ex-spouse remarries or dies. Otherwise, the paying spouse must get a new court order terminating the alimony. Your friend's contention that the receiving spouse can spend it however they want is entirely correct. It is none of the court's nor the paying ex-spouse's business how the money is spent.

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Answered on 12/18/11, 1:44 pm

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