What Is a Wife Entitled to In a Divorce in California?

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and stressful time. The process of determining spousal and child support, child custody, and the division of marital assets can be complex and intimidating. Whatever the reason for the divorce, navigating it is rarely easy. It can help to understand what a wife is entitled to in a divorce in the state of California.

California is a no-fault state, meaning that the only thing necessary to get a divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” Essentially, nobody has to prove that their spouse did something wrong to get a divorce. Both spouses don’t have to agree to a divorce. If either partner files for divorce, the marriage will be terminated, and it isn’t held against either spouse legally in the process of getting a divorce.

Is a Wife Entitled to Spousal Support?

In California, gender is not taken into account when determining spousal support. The lower-earning spouse may be entitled to spousal support, but this is determined by several factors, including the incomes of both spouses, marital assets and debts, and length of the marriage. If a wife is the lower-earning spouse and has been married for over ten years, she is more likely to attain spousal support.

Typically, spousal support is agreed upon in mediation and sent to the judge for approval. However, if an agreement can’t be reached and litigation is necessary, the judge will use these factors to determine spousal support:

  • Age of spouses
  • Length of marriage
  • Marital assets and debts
  • Mental and physical health of both spouses
  • Custody and visitation agreements
  • The ability of both spouses to be financially independent
  • Pre-divorce standard of living

Spousal support is intended to uphold the pre-divorce standard of living for a reasonable amount of time with the expectation that the lower-earning spouse will eventually become self-sufficient. Typically, when the marriage lasts less than ten years, spousal support is ordered for half the duration of the marriage. If a marriage lasted six years, spousal support would be ordered for three years. For marriages longer than ten years, there is no specific set time limit for spousal support.

Is a Wife Entitled to Child Custody?

Custody of the child or children is not immediately granted to a wife in California. Rather, the judge will determine what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. This may mean a wife has sole custody, joint custody, or gets visitation with their child. These are the factors the judge takes into account while determining child custody:

  • If the child is over the age of 12, the child’s wishes
  • Age of child
  • Child’s relationship with their parents
  • Child’s ties to school and community relationships
  • The ability of each parent to take care of the child
  • Mental and physical health of both child and parents
  • Any history of substance abuse amongst the parents
  • Any history of domestic violence

Is a Wife Entitled to Child Support?

If a wife is granted custody of their child, she may be entitled to child support. Typically, child support is awarded to the primary caregiver of the child. These factors are taken into account when determining child support:

  • Number of children
  • Amount of time the child spends with each parent
  • Each parent’s income
  • Costs of childcare
  • Travel costs for visitation

What Assets Is a Wife Entitled To?

California is a community property state, which means that all property or debt acquired over the duration of the marriage is considered community property. Community property is also called marital assets. Community property includes all income earned as well as any assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse’s name the purchase was made under. This can include the house if it was purchased during the marriage and can include any businesses acquired during the marriage. A wife may be entitled to up to 50% of all community property.

Any property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property. Separate property also includes any gifts, inheritances, or property bought with an inheritance.

Debts are handled the same way as assets in California. Debts accrued during the marriage will be divided equitably, while debts that either party came into the marriage with stay with them after the divorce.

Of course, determining community and separate property is not always easy. Over the course of a marriage, it can be difficult to unravel what is considered community or separate property.

In California, community property must be divided equitably between both spouses. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split. There’s a lot of flexibility in coming up with a division of assets that both spouses consider to be fair, as every situation is unique. For example, one partner may get the house in the divorce while the other partner gets the assets. If the couple cannot come to an agreement, the court will determine community property on a case-by-case basis. What is considered an equal and fair division can vary by the specific situation.


Q: How Long Do You Have to be Married to Get Half of Everything in California?

A: There isn’t a duration of marriage that inherently entitles you to a 50/50 split in California. Property acquired during the marriage is split equitably. This means that marital assets are divided fairly, so all property is not split 50/50. Rather, the focus on equity means that both spouses walk away with about half of all marital assets overall.

Q: How Many Years Do You Have to be Married to Get Spousal Support in California?

A: In California, there is no specific duration of marriage that entitles you to spousal support. Spousal support is determined by a variety of factors, including the income of both partners, marital assets and debts, and length of the marriage. The duration of the payment of spousal support takes into account many factors, including the length of the marriage.

Q: Who Gets the House in a Divorce in California?

A: It depends on whether the house was owned before the marriage by one spouse or is considered community property, meaning both spouses own it. If both spouses own it, then a buyout could be considered, or it may need to be sold to divide profits.

Q: What Can a Wife Claim in a Divorce?

A: In California, a wife may be entitled to 50% of shared assets. There are many circumstances to consider, and it is best to talk with your attorney to determine what entitlements can be claimed.

Contact the Law Office of Patricia Rigdon Today

Navigating a divorce can be legally and emotionally challenging. Our divorce litigation attorneys bring decades of experience going through the divorce process and empathy to support you through this process. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.