Family Code 4320: Overview

Family Code 4320

Spousal support, often known as alimony, is sometimes ordered by a California family court in conjunction with a divorce decree. Although the court is free to decide how to proceed, they are required to consider the elements listed in Family Code Section 4320.

What Is the Family Code 4320

Family Code section 4320 requires a trial court to take into account multiple factors while deciding whether to award spousal maintenance. These include, among other things, the “balance of the hardships to each party” (Fam. Code, 4320, sub. (k)), the “goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period” (Fam. Code, 4320, sub. (l)), Along with the “age and health of the parties” (Fam. Code, 4320, sub. (h)).

Family Code 4320: Considerations For Support Ordering

The court takes into account fourteen considerations when determining spousal support rulings. The California Family Code, Section 4320, enumerates these 14 considerations. They are:

  • “To what degree each party’s earning potential is adequate to sustain the standard of living established during the marriage”
  • “The degree to which the supporting party helped the supporting party get a license, employment position, education, or training.”
  • “The supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living, as well as the supporting party’s ability to pay spousal support.”
  • “Each party’s needs are based on the living standards agreed upon during the marriage.”
  • “Each party’s obligations and assets, including their separate property.”
  • “How long the marriage has lasted.”


  • “The supported party’s capacity to work for a living without unnecessarily interfering with the interests of dependent children under the party’s custody.”
  • “The parties’ ages and health.”
  • The evidence should be documented and include a plea of nolo contendere. It should also include any history of domestic violence, as defined by Section 6211, between the parties or committed by either party against the other’s child. This can include but is not limited to, taking into account the emotional distress caused by domestic violence committed by the supporting party against the supported party and any hostile history of the favored party towards the favored party.
  • “The particular and immediate tax implications for each party.”
  • “The proportion of each party’s hardships.”
  • “The objective is also for the party receiving support to become self-sufficient in a fair amount of time. A “reasonable period” for this provision is typically half the length of the marriage, except for long-term marriages as defined by provision 4336. Nothing in this section, however, is meant to restrict the court’s authority to grant support for a longer or shorter period, depending on the parties’ circumstances and any other reasons specified in Section 4336.
  • “By Section 4324.5 or 4325, a spousal support award may also be reduced or eliminated based on the criminal conviction of an abusive spouse.”
  • “Any additional factors that the court finds to be fair and reasonable.”

What Is Considered Proven Domestic Abuse?

The following elements are considered proof of domestic abuse to evaluate whether Family Code 4320 permits support awards in cases of domestic violence:

  • An admission of guilt by the offender
  • The degree and kind of emotional anguish that a domestic violence incident causes to a spouse or child
  • Violence in the past between the offender and the person requesting assistance
  • A protective order issued by the court against the offender
  • Any additional domestic abuse that takes place while the divorce or legal separation process is underway


What is California’s family code 4323?

(a)(1) Unless the parties agree differently in writing, there is a rebuttable presumption—which influences the burden of proof—that the supported party’s need for spousal support will be less if they cohabitate with a non-marital partner.

What is California’s family code 4336?

(a) The court retains jurisdiction forever in an action for dissolution of marriage or for the legal separation of the parties where the marriage is of long duration Unless the court orders the termination of spousal support unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.

What is Family Code 3750 in California?

  1. The term “health insurance coverage” in this context refers to the following: (a) Dental and vision care reimbursement If the coverage for dental or vision care is provided as a stand-alone policy or plan, or if it is a component of an existing health insurance policy.

What is California’s Family Code 1620?

Spouses cannot alter their legal relationship through a contract unless the law explicitly states otherwise, except for property.


A couple will frequently decide about spousal support with the blessing of the court. If at all possible, this is the recommended course of action. In California, divorce lawyers must adhere to Family Code Section 4320 to ensure a fair and equitable settlement. Why?

The court will also examine the initial agreement between the parties regarding a spousal support order change request by one partner. You might also need to hold a trial so the court can hear testimony regarding each of these factors if you haven’t addressed them. Without a court ruling, the parties themselves are unable to agree on a modification of support. This is also only one of the reasons you should consult closely with your California family law attorney before submitting an agreement to the judge.

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