This is technically referred to as "spousal support" in California. It is offered to provide needed financial assistance to a spouse during and after termination of a marriage. The goal is to maintain the marital standard of living. It is also to allow a former spouse time to become financially independent of the other, to the extent this is possible.
Many factors come into play to determine how much is owed the other spouse and for how long. Such factors are the age of the parties, their respective states of health, their earning capacities, their work histories and educational backgrounds. Making an award of spousal support is an area of broad discretion for the court.
Spousal support is tax deductible by the party paying and taxable to the party receiving it.
Child Support (of minor children)
In determining how much child support is owed the other parent, the state provides a computerized formula. It takes into account the earnings of both parties, the percentage of time each parent spends with the children and each party's federal and state tax obligations. Child support is a tax-free payment.
The property acquired by either spouse from during marriage and it's allocation in event of a separation.
Custody & Visitation (of minor children)
After a separation or divorce the decision of which child or children lives with which parent needs to be determined. In addition, the division of time with each parent needs to be set. These orders can be altered at later dates - see "Modification of Orders".
Also called the dissolution of the marriage. It is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties (unlike annulment, which declares the marriage null and void). Laws vary from country to country and even state to state. Divorce will generally involve Child Support (see Alimony), distribution of property, division of debt, and custody and visitation orders where children are involved.
An alternative to divorce for those you would prefer staying married legally, but wish to live separately from their spouse. It has all of the rights to division of property and allocation of debt, in addition to support, as is afforded those who have divorced. A major advantage to a legal separation is the ability to remain medically insured through the spouse's health insurance coverage following the end of the marital relationship.
Modification of Orders
Changes in orders for support and custody are the most common.
This is the legal process to determine the legal rights and obligations of a parent to a child born outside of marriage.
This is often determined by means of a paternity test.
Once a divorce is final, there might still be areas of dispute between the parties. These can be about children, child and spousal support and can go on for years. Also, there might have been inadvertent omission of assets in the divorce that can and should be adjudicated after the fact.
These are contracts available to parties who plan on marrying, but would like to opt out of some or most of the legal ramifications of marriage. These may include the duties of support, or the application of community property laws to the marriage.
These are sometimes called "Orders of Protection" in other states. These orders are available to protect victims of domestic violence from bodily harm, threats of bodily harm, or harassing conduct perpetrated by another person (such as a spouse or party in a close personal relationship with another).