As a general rule, for as long as husband and wife or registered domestic partners are living together, they each owe the other a mutual duty of support.
During the pendency of a dissolution or legal separation proceeding, the court "may order" one party to pay "any amount that is necessary" for the other's support consistent with the requirements of Family Code sections 4320(i) and (m) and 4325. The attorneys and court will reference computer programs such as DissoMaster and Xspouse, relative to calculation of a "Guideline" spousal support amount.
Permanent spousal support, however, is not computer based, either as a baseline or starting point. Rather, it must be the product of a truly independent exercise of judicial discretion. That is, the judge must make a "ground-up" determination, considering all factors under Family Code section 4320, i.e. earning capacity of each party to maintain the marital standard of living; earning capacity and ability to pay; marriage duration need of the supported party; the age and health of the parties; documented history of domestic violence; hardships; and any other just and reasonable factors.
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