In California, spousal support, also known as alimony, can be ordered by the court under several circumstances, including divorce, legal separation, annulment, and as part of a domestic violence restraining order. Similarly, partner support can be ordered in a domestic partnership separation.
If you are going through a divorce or separation and spousal support is an issue, a California family law attorney can advocate for support terms that are fair and beneficial to you. Temporary and long-term support orders directly impact your financial well-being, and our attorney will work to protect your spousal support rights and obligations.
Temporary And Long-Term Spousal Support
There are two types of spousal support, temporary and long-term. Temporary support involves payments made by one party to the other during the legal separation or divorce process. This support is ordered so that one spouse is not left without access to financial resources while the legal proceedings are ongoing. At the end of divorce and separation proceedings, courts may order long-term spousal support, providing the amount and duration of payments to be made.
Marital Agreement Terms
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may provide spousal support terms, but they are only enforceable when they comply with California law. Prenuptial agreements are entered into by parties before they are married and generally set forth each party’s rights and responsibilities regarding debts and assets, including spousal support terms.
Postnuptial agreements are entered into by spouses after they are already married, and courts heavily scrutinize spousal support terms in postnuptial contracts. If spousal support is not addressed in a valid marital agreement, those terms will be determined during the divorce or separation process.
Spousal Support Negotiations
Couples can agree to spousal support terms, or those terms can be left up to the court. Spouses and their respective attorneys sometimes elect to participate in mediation or another type of alternative dispute resolution to negotiate some or all of their divorce terms. Courts will typically enforce agreements as long as they are fair and reasonable to both parties.
Negotiating spousal support and other separation matters gives both parties a say in how divorce issues are settled. With the help of attorneys, each party has the opportunity to make some concessions in exchange for favorable spousal support terms and other matters that are more important to them.
Calculating Spousal Support
When separating spouses cannot agree to spousal support terms, courts will make those decisions instead. In general, the goal is that the supported spouse will become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. With some exceptions, such as for marriages of long duration, a reasonable amount of time is half of the length of the marriage.
The length of the marriage is not the only consideration when determining spousal support, however. Other factors the court may take into account include the following::
- The length of the marriage or domestic partnership.
- The amount each party needs to enjoy the same or similar standard of living that the couple maintained during their marriage.
- The supporting party’s ability to pay spousal support, taking into consideration his or her income, earning capacity, debts, assets, and standard of living.
- The supported party’s income and earning capacity.
- Whether or not a supported party contributed to the other party’s ability to secure educational, career, and professional licensure achievements during the marriage.
- Marital and separate debts and assets.
- The supported party’s ability to secure gainful employment while caring for dependent children in his or her custody.
- The extent to which the supported party’s earnings or earning potential was impaired by periods of unemployment during the marriage to focus on raising children and other domestic duties.
- The age and health of each party.
- Any documented evidence of domestic violence perpetrated by either party against the other party or child.
- The spousal support tax consequences to each party.
- The balance of hardship to each party.
- Any other factors determined to be just and equitable.
California Spousal Support Attorney
If you have questions about spousal support and other California family law matters, contact the Law Offices of Bruce A. Mandel at 424-250-9130 or online to schedule a consultation. We know that separation and divorce are stressful, especially when your financial rights and responsibilities are on the line.
We will go over your questions and discuss the critical elements of your case. We know that family law matters can be complicated, and we can help. Follow us on Facebook for updates on our law firm and California family law information.