In California, alimony law is complex, with decisions on spousal support (alimony) being determined based on numerous factors. And, it is also true that the court presiding over the matter has wide ranging discretion in determining whether alimony should be paid, and if so, in what amount.
Some of the major factors involved include: the extent to which a party is able to maintain the same standard of living as existed during the marriage, the impact long periods of unemployment (in order to attend to domestic duties) had on a spouse's marketable job skills, the degree to which the party to be supported contributed to the supporting party's work-related degree or training, the earning capacity of the supporting party, and the length of time that the marriage lasted.
In most cases, alimony will not be for life but will last for a specific period of time. The court will determine this duration based on how long it will take the supported party to transition back into single life or based on a demonstrable reason why the supported party would no longer need alimony support at some future date.
For more on alimony, see the section at the bottom of this page on "spousal support."