How Is Spousal Support Determined In California?

In the event a marriage ends in divorce or legal separation, one partner may be owed spousal support. Spousal support, commonly called alimony, is an amount of money owed to one partner to maintain a standard of living in which they have become accustomed to during their marriage. In the State of California, there are a number of different factors which go into the courts decision for alimony payments.

As determining spousal support (or partner support in the case of a domestic partnership) can be contentious, it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney. Working with a family law attorney such as Bruce A. Mandel can help you determine the most equitable result for both and your partner.

What Determines Spousal Support Payments?

During the course of a divorce, a judge considers the amount of spousal or partner support one partner will receive. The final decision a judge issues will be based on a number of factors laid out in the California Family Code.

The following factors are used to determine alimony:

  • The length of the marriage.
  • The amount of money a person would need to maintain the standard of living during the time of the marriage (or domestic partnership).
  • The amount of money one can pay to maintain their standard of living.
  • The effect a job would have on the ability to care for any children.
  • The effect of children of a job.
  • Each party’s age and health.
  • Any debts or assets.
  • The amount of help one partner received in regards to education or career training.
  • Any tax implications of alimony.
  • Any issues of domestic violence.

The courts are required to follow these guidelines and there can be many factors to consider when looking at the guidelines.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

In California, spousal support lasts for half of the length of the marriage. In cases where the marriage lasts for more than 10 years, a judge is not required to set a time period for payment. The courts do have some ability to decide on an appropriate length of payments based upon circumstances within the marriage.

In California, spousal support lasts for half of the length of the marriage. In cases where the marriage lasts for more than 10 years, a judge is not required to set a time period for payment.

Determining Standard of Living

When determining the amount of spousal support one party receives, a judge will look at a number of factors related to maintaining each person’s standard of living. To determine whether a person can maintain their standard of living the courts look at some guidelines such as the person’s marketable skills, the current job market, any need for additional education or training, and any point in which one partner was not working in order to perform household duties. After looking at all of the guidelines, the judge can make a decision as to how much a spousal support is owed.

Spousal Support In California

Domestic Violence

If there has been or is any documented domestic abuse within the relationship, the judge may award a different amount than what would normally be issued. If an abuser is also the one paying support a judge may award more spousal support to the other party for emotional support. They may also eliminate spousal support if the abuser would be the one receiving any spousal support.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Spousal Support

There are two types of spousal support, temporary and permanent. Permanent spousal support is decided by a judge and is awarded as a part of your finalized divorce. Even though not all spousal support lasts indefinitely, if the decision was made when the divorce was finalized, it is labeled as permanent spousal support. Temporary spousal support is support issued to one party before a divorce or as a part of a separation.

While temporary and permanent spousal support are similar, there are different ways in which spousal support is calculated. Judges in California take into consideration the above factors when deciding permanent spousal support. When deciding the amount of temporary partner support judges often use a formula. However, some local courts have different factors which are used to calculate these judgments.

There are two types of spousal support, temporary and permanent. Permanent spousal support is decided by a judge and is awarded as a part of your finalized divorce. Temporary spousal support is support issued to one party before a divorce or as a part of a separation.

Modifying Spousal Support in California

As circumstances change, either party may request to change the original spousal support judgment. In order for this to occur, there needs to be a significant change with one of the parties such as one person finding a better paying job or another person losing their job. If the person receiving the spousal support is not making the appropriate efforts to live self-sufficiently, the other person may be able to change the original order or end it all together.

Spousal Support In California

If there is a change to the original order, the judge will use the same criteria to decide on the appropriate amount of support for the new order. It is important to work with a trusted attorney to protect your rights in the spousal support case. You are entitled to either receive or pay your fair share of support, not more, not less.

Does Child Support Affect Spousal Support?

In short, yes child support can affect spousal support. Both of these issues can be decided separately. In California, the courts will always err on the side of protecting the rights of children. The courts will look to provide for the children of a couple before they issue spousal support orders.

Contact An Experienced California Divorce Attorney When Dealing With Spousal Support Matters

There are many aspects a judge will consider when deciding on a spousal or partner support case. They will look over things like earning potential, marketable job skills, the job market, the length of the marriage, and at any history of domestic abuse. These cases are usually the most difficult parts of a divorce and it is necessary to have appropriate representation.

If you are looking to be awarded spousal support or modify your spousal support, contact family law attorney Bruce A Mandel today. With over 27 years of experience, we will fight with you to come to an equitable decision in your spousal support case.

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