Long Beach Spousal Support Lawyers
If you need to ask questions about spousal support, then you should talk with a reputable Long Beach spousal support lawyer.
An Overview of Spousal Support Laws
After a legal separation, the court could order temporary spousal support to sustain the parties’ status quo as they move through the divorce process. Conversely, the court can make an order for permanent spousal support based on the circumstances of each party. The court will take into account:
- the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage,
- the respective necessities of each party, and
- the ability (or inability) to make payments.
While there are 14 statutory factors the court is required to consider when putting in a permanent spousal support order, the option to order spousal support, the amount, and the length of time of the support, is within the court’s purview.
In the days prior to the advent of the no-fault divorce, spousal support was inextricably connected to marital misconduct. In plain English, spousal support was awarded by the state as a punitive measure against a “guilty” spouse who breached the bonds of matrimony. In most states, no-fault divorce legislation has shifted away from the concept of spousal support being a right. Nevertheless, spousal support is normally the last piece of the monetary puzzle to be decided on during a divorce, after child support and asset division has been completed.
Although some states have some time limitations on spousal support, some others make spousal support almost impossible to get. The state of California falls at the midpoint of those two extremes. While actual permanent spousal support is a possibility, it is unusual these days.
Factors the Court Takes Into Consideration When Determining Spousal Support
In keeping with California Family Code §4320, the amount and duration of spousal support are factors that are figured out by weighing the following:
- Whether the spouse requesting the spousal support made a significant contribution to the education, training, license or career position of the other;
- Whether both spouses will be capable of maintaining the same standard of living established in the marriage, based on his or her earning capacity;
- The separate property each spouse holds in possession;
- The financial obligations and assets of each party;
- How long the marriage lasted;
- The supporting party’s capability to make spousal support payments, based on income, assets, standard of living and earning capacity;
- Whether the spouse requesting the spousal support can work without significantly interfering with the needs of minor children in his or her custody;
- The ages of each of the spouses;
- The health and wellness of each of the spouses;
- Considerations of any emotional duress that resulted from domestic abuse;
- Tax consequences against both spouses if spousal support were to be awarded;
- Hardships endured by either spouse or both of the spouses;
- Whether or not the spouse looking for spousal support could become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time (usually one-half the length of the marriage)
- The court may deem additional factors relevant
Is There a Ten-Year Rule in the State of California?
Even though the general public tends to believe that California has a “ten-year rule” that entitles a spouse in a marriage of at least ten years’ to receive permanent spousal support, this is not a true representation of the facts. Ten years is, nevertheless, an important milestone which could have an effect on whether the court might revisit the issue of spousal support at some stange in the future.
Further, as a general rule, spousal support in California can certainly be imposed for at least half the length of a marriage that lasted less than ten years. In marriages that were longer than ten years, the duration of the spousal support is not defined. In such cases, the burden is on the paying spouse to demonstrate to a court that spousal support is unnecessary at some point in the future. The court has much discretion regarding the duration of spousal support, but in general, the idea is that a receiving spouse is entitled to receive spousal support only until that spouse becomes self-supporting.
While spousal support in California, which gets awarded in a long-term marriage could be referred to as “permanent,” in reality it is exceedingly rare for a California judge to order authentically permanent support. If the receiving spouse says they are unable to work or become fully employed, their claim must be supported with evidence. A long-term spousal support order will customarily reduce incrementally over time, down to a very nominal amount. In other words, although the court doesn’t terminate spousal support on a predetermined date, they can set a termination date which will take effect, unless the spouse on the receiving end applies for an extension before that date arrives.
Is Alimony the Same as Spousal Support?
Yes , spousal support and alimony are the same thing. The word “alimony” has been phased out over the years and supplanted by what is considered the more modern nomenclature, “spousal support.” Some states also use the term “spousal maintenance.” In general, California uses the phrase “spousal support” to refer to payments from one spouse to another in the wake of a divorce.
Spousal support payments can go from a husband to a wife after the divorce, or from a wife to a husband. In general, the concept is that the spouse who is more financially able will pay the other until the receiving spouse is capable of supporting themselves in pretty much the same manner as they did while they were married. In numerous cases, one spouse may not possess enough training for employment, or may have been out of the workforce for a long time, making it difficult for that spouse to secure a job and maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage without help.
Do All Divorces Trigger Spousal Support?
The common misconception exists with regards to whether one spouse in a divorce will always get spousal support. In reality, since most divorces are not handled in courtrooms, it is tough to determine just how often court-ordered spousal support factors into a divorce. So long as a mutual agreement between spouses meets California state’s legal requirements, the court will likely uphold the agreement—even if the agreement includes a waiver of support by the lower-earning spouse.
A few estimates put the number of divorcing spouses who are actually awarded spousal support at around 10-15 percent. In California, short term support can be awarded while the divorce is in progress. This temporary spousal support is referred to as pendente lite support.
How Does Temporary Spousal Support Get Calculated in the California Family Courts?
There is a formula for figuring out a temporary spousal support payment in the state of California, once the needs of the requesting spouse and the capability of the paying spouse to pay are taken under consideration. In Santa Clara County, for example, fifty percent of the income of the lower-earning spouse is deducted forty 40 percent of the income of the higher-earning spouse.
Afterwards, adjustments for any tax consequences and child support are factored in. Then the court can hand down what they believe to be an equitable amount of temporary spousal support. The marketable skills of the requesting spouse will be taken into consideration, along with the current job market for whatever the spouse’s skill set is. Additionally, the court will consider the potential time and expense the spouse requesting spousal support will have to incur to acquire the necessary education or training to be employable.
Interesting Facts Regarding Spousal Support in California
Most of the people who either receive or are ordered to pay spousal support have numerous questions about California’s laws on spousal support.
Some of the facts of California Spousal Support include:
- The paying spouse has the right to retire at age 65 in the state of California, and cannot be obligated to work to keep on paying spousal support beyond that age. If a paying spouse is forced into early retirement because of a health issue or other circumstance that is beyond his or her control, this could also result in an end to spousal support payments.
- If the paying spouse receives a significant raise after the divorce, this raise would not be retroactively considered for the purpose of awarding more spousal support.
- If the paying spouse has been impacted by a large reduction in income, due to involuntary termination or health problems, the amount of spousal support may be either lowered or terminated altogether.
- If the paying spouse conducts his or her own business enterprise, and the business earnings have decreased significantly, the amount of spousal support obligations can be adjusted.
- Unless the amount of spousal support has a built-in annual “cap,” then in some cases, regular bonuses or overtime income may be factored into the amount of spousal support required.
- If the receiving spouse is awarded a substantial raise in pay, the paying spouse might be able to have the amount of spousal support payment reduced, or even terminated.
- If spousal support is being paid to a recipient who appears not to have any interest in ever becoming self-supporting, the paying spouse has the right to ask the court to order a vocational assessment. Courts are also allowed to assign the receiving spouse a “fictional” income, in a scenario where it appears that spouse is purposely avoiding employment.
- On the same token, the receiving spouse could claim disability due to stress or depression, which may prevent him or her from returning to work. While it could certainly be a valid disability, an Independent Medical Evaluation might be recommended in order to determine what kind of employment would still be available to the receiving spouse.
- Declaring bankruptcy is not likely to trigger the paying spouse having his or her spousal support obligations discharged.
- Spousal support payments are usually a tax deduction for the paying spouse, while the receiving spouse is obligated to pay taxes on the payments.
- If a person receiving spousal support is living with a new romantic partner, then the paying spouse might be able to petition the court to reduce or totally eliminate the spousal support payments.
- If the receiving spouse gets remarried, the obligation to pay spousal support automatically ends. Nonetheless, the paying spouse may need to get a court order that terminates wage assignments if there is such an order in place.
- Barring a written agreement between the spouses that states that no changes in spousal support can be sought, either spouse has a legal right to ask for a modification or termination of spousal support payments because of material changes in circumstances.
Spousal support may very well be the largest financial burden a spouse can incur from a divorce. It is important that both spouses be proactive to make sure that any spousal support award is fair and equitable. The best way to accomplish this is to speak about the issue with your California divorce lawyer. It’s your attorney’s job to make certain that you receive or pay a fair amount of support, and your divorce lawyer is the best person to look out for your rights and your financial future.
Speak to Long Beach Spousal Support Lawyer Today
Having a seasoned, experienced Long Beach Divorce Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist on your side will help you achieve a successful outcome in your matter. Whether you are the supporting or supported spouse, an experienced family law attorney will advocate your spousal support claims for you.