Spousal support is also called "alimony," and see our section on alimony above right here on this home page. But some may tend to use the term "spousal support" for longer-term or permanent support as opposed to very temporary support.
The higher wage-earner of the dissolved marriage may have to pay spousal support to the lower wage-earner or non-wage-earner. But none of this is automatic: the court has great discretion here.
Typically, if a California marriage lasted less than 10 years, spousal support (if any) will last for half the length of time that the marriage did last. But if the marriage continued for 10 years or more, the court may make spousal support permanent, last until the supported spouse remarries, or until further action is taken by the court.
Temporary spousal support is based largely on the time it will take the supported former spouse to readjust to single life, while permanent spousal support is based on standard of living of the supported party, income of the supporting party, and other factors outlined in detail in California's Family Code Section 4320.