Fortunately the legislature has determined that spousal support is appropriate when one spouse is unable to be self supporting. For long term marriages (10 years is the rule of thumb, but if it is close to 10 years, the court is free to use the long term marriage rules) a court can award indefinite/life time spousal support if the party is unable to work. Of course it would terminate upon remarriage.
Here is the statute:
4320. In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall
consider all of the following circumstances:
(a) The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is
sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the
marriage, taking into account all of the following:
(1) The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market
for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported
party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop
those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to
acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
(2) The extent to which the supported party's present or future
earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were
incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote
time to domestic duties.
(b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the
attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license
by the supporting party.
(c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support,
taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned
and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living
established during the marriage.
(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property,
of each party.
(f) The duration of the marriage.
(g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful
employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent
children in the custody of the party.
(h) The age and health of the parties.
(i) Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of
any history of domestic violence
, as defined in Section 6211, between
the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party's
child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional
distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the
supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any
history of violence against the supporting party by the supported
(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.
(l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting
within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage
of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period
of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the
length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended
to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or
lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in
this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
(m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be
considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support
award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.
(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
The court will not award it if they feel the party is purposefully under/unemployed, but that is not applicable in severe medical cases. Fortunately if a person refuses to pay court ordered support, the court can issue a wage garnishment
, effectuate a lien on bank accounts/property, and even hold the person in contempt of court if they are in willful violation of a court order. You can hire an attorney and request a Family Law
Real Property Lien so that the attorney would get paid from the equity in the house; or one can file a motion for a request for attorney fees based on inability to pay-the court will often consider that when one spouse has access to funds and the other does not, in order to level the playing field. That code is here:2030. (a) (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage
of marriage, or legal separation
of the parties, and in any
proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall
ensure that each party has access to legal representation, including
access early in the proceedings, to preserve each party's rights by
ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one
party, except a governmental entity, to pay to the other party, or
to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably
necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or
defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.
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