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Spousal support, sometimes referred to as “alimony,” is often a contested issue in California divorces. A lower-earning spouse may feel that they need financial support to make ends meet, or that they deserve support because they sacrificed their career to care for the family and support their spouse’s work. A higher-earning spouse may worry that making spousal support payments will not leave them with enough to live on, or may believe that the other spouse could earn enough to support themselves if they tried.
At Bednarczyk & Valerio, we understand how important it is for you to have a firm financial foundation for your life after separation or divorce. Whether you need spousal support, or are concerned about having to pay it, we can help ensure that you have the resources you need to build the future you want.
There are two types of spousal support in California. Temporary spousal support may be awarded while a divorce or family law case is going on and before there is a final order or judgment in the case. Temporary spousal support is based on one spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay. If the lower-earning spouse’s monthly income is not sufficient to cover their monthly expenses, and the higher-earning spouse has income in excess of their expenses, a court can order temporary spousal support. The parties may also agree that one will pay support to the other while the case is ongoing.
Long-term spousal support is awarded at the conclusion of a divorce or domestic partnership, and can last for a varying amount of time depending on how long the parties were married for and whether one spouse or partner earns a lot more than the other. The spouses can agree that one will pay support to the other, and can agree on the amount and duration of support awards. As with temporary support, if the parties don’t agree, the court decides.
In marriages lasting less than ten years, spousal support generally is only available for for half as long as the marriage lasted. For example, spousal support awarded after a six-year marriage would probably continue for no more than three years. In a marriage that has lasted for over ten years, the court decides what’s reasonable based on how long it would take the spouse receiving support to become self-supporting, and how much support they will need until then. To determine this, a judge considers the length of the marriage; each spouse’s income and earning capacity; each spouse’s age and health; the standard of living established during the marriage; and a number of other factors. Unlike child support, there is no formula guideline to determine long-term spousal support.
Depending on the factors above, a court might order support on an indefinite basis or for a term of years. Former spouses can agree to modify or terminate support, or one party can go back to court to ask for a modification if circumstances have changed significantly. However, if the parties previously agreed to make spousal support non-modifiable, a court is very unlikely to change it.
Spousal support in California terminates when either party dies or when the supported spouse remarries. The parties to a spousal support case can also agree that support will terminate for some other reason.
As with other aspects of family law cases, it is usually preferable to reach an agreement on spousal support; doing so lets you and your spouse make a decision that works for both of you. The experienced family law attorneys at Bednarczyk & Valerio help you to understand what a court would be likely to order in your case so that you can arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement.
Spousal support in California is a very fact-specific determination. If the issue of spousal support must go before the court in your case, you need to provide the court with the information it needs to decide in your favor. The help of a knowledgeable attorney can make a huge difference in the amount or duration of spousal support payments that a court orders.
As seasoned litigators who focus exclusively on family law, we present the court with the right evidence to support your position regarding spousal support in your case. We can also help you modify or terminate California spousal support if circumstances have changed. We understand that financial matters in family law can be especially stressful, and we offer our clients the personal support they deserve along with the advocacy they need. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.