Spousal support is a financial support paid to a former spouse to help them with the living expenditures in case a divorce. In California, spousal support may be established either under a spousal agreement, in a court settlement or through a court order. To ease the monetary transition of the spouse with a lower income, a spousal support may be awarded on a temporary basis in case of a legal separation. Immediately the divorce process is finalized, it’s up to the courts to decide whether the spousal support should be made permanent or not.
Spousal support usually begins when certain family law court cases are open. The order can be requested during a divorce, annulment, legal separation, or a domestic violence restraining order.
Forms of Spousal Support
There are several forms of spousal support, including:
- Temporary Support - This form of support is paid within a specific period of time. Temporary support payment is usually made for not more than 2 years. It's put in place to cater for the needs of one spouse until a complete agreement is reached or until the divorce is finalized.
- Permanent Support - This is the support paid on a weekly or monthly basis up to the moment the recipient spouse remarries or one the spouses dies.
Others include rehabilitative support and a lump sum support. A rehabilitative support is granted when the recipient spouse is younger or if the dependent spouse is in a position to secure reasonable employment in the future. This form of support gives the recipient an opportunity to complete their education and gain the necessary knowledge to allow them to be self-sufficient. A lump sum support is done once instead of periodic payments with the main difference being that it attracts taxation.
Significance of Spousal Support
Spousal support is not a guarantee, nor a right. It is not enforced to punish a spouse for infidelity or any misbehavior during the marriage. It’s also not meant to be a consolation prize to the spouse who tolerated mistreatment. California is a no-fault state and misconduct has no influence on financial resolutions as stated under California’s Family Code section 4320.
The main aim of having a spousal support in place is to limit any biased financial effects of a divorce by offering a lasting income to the spouse with a lower-wage earning or even one who earns nothing at all. One of the validation is that one spouse may have abandoned their career to take care of the children and therefore require more time to cultivate their job skills to support themselves. Another reason is that spousal support may be awarded to ensure that a spouse continues to live the kind of life they used to during their marriage period.
California family law governing spousal support can be very complex. To ensure fruitful result to your explicit case, all ethics and proclamation set through the courts must be tackled with legal strictness and absolute accuracy. It’s, therefore, important to seek the services of a proficient California spousal support lawyer.
Factors Considered by the Court When Calculating Spousal Support
Calculating the amount of support payment can be one of the most complex and tasking part of the spousal support order. The formula used in calculating temporary spousal support in California varies from one county to another. But when it comes to the calculation of permanent spousal support, there is no particular formula applied. There are many factors that the courts consider before an amount is arrived at as stipulated under California’s Family Code section 4320. The factors include
- Both parties’ earning capacity, and whether they can be able to achieve the same lifestyle that they were used to while in the marriage.
- The ability of the paying party to pay spousal support
- Financial assets and debts of both spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- Any history of abuse or violence
- The duration that it may take for the receiving spouse to become financially independent
- The receiving spouse’s marketable skills depending on the job market and the level of education needed to enter the job market and obtain gainful employment
- How any children will affect the receiving spouse’s ability to obtain gainful employment
- One party’s level of contribution towards the training, education, and career of the other
- The tax consequences and benefits either party may face
As you can see in the factors above, there is no mentioned of gender. This means that either the wife or husband can be obligated to pay spousal support, for as long as it caters to the needs of the lower-earning spouse.
Why Should You and Your Spouse Disclose Your Financial Information?
If you apply for spousal support, both you and your spouse will be required to disclose your financial information to each other and to the court. In doing so, you will submit comprehensive documents indicating all your assets, income, and even debts. To be specific some the information you will be asked for comprises:
- Expenses for both debts and bills you share
- Property owned by jointly and those owned separately
- Healthcare costs and medical bills
- School or daycare costs for your kids if you have children
- All income from all sources including side jobs and work you only tackle periodically
- Groceries and the total cost of feeding yourself and the kids
- Property you came with into the marriage or that which was specifically gifted to you during the marriage
- Utilities and any other costs related to living expenses
In California, there are rules that clearly spell out what should be shared and when that should be done. However, it’s important to remember that the law requires all parties in any given case to disclose complete and factual information to one another regardless of whether you’re creating or responding to a court application or negotiating a settlement. It’s important to provide a full disclosure
spouse failure to which you may face heavy financial penalties and this may even lead to the introduction of new changes to your order or agreement by the court. If you believe your spouse is hiding some assets, inform your lawyer who will then submit interrogatories requesting for additional information.
What Other Documentations Are Important?
After disclosing your financial information, your attorney will submit a documentation of the same to the court. The documentation basically comprises copies of all your legal documents which include deeds, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, and your mortgage or lease. In addition, bank statements, tax returns, and copies of bills can also be utilized to demonstrate the figures you submitted are correct. This will help you help you evade future penalties.
For How Long Should Spousal Support Be Paid?
Spousal support is always considered rehabilitative and this means that the courts may order it to be paid for a reasonable duration based on the marital situations. In the event that the divorce decree does not clearly outline the termination date of the spousal support, the party making the payments must continue paying it until the court gives a new order. In most cases, payment of spousal support stops once the beneficiary remarries. Closure of a spousal support following the death of the payer may not be automatic. If the recipient spouse is not in a position to access meaningful employment may be as a result of health or age issues, the court may have to order additional support be paid to the recipient either from the payer’s life insurance or estate accounts.
Spousal support payments just like child support payments may be altered to take care of any personal and financial changes witnessed in the life of either spouse. The question of whether you should be awarded the spousal support is dependent on the details of your spouse’s personal fiscal position.
Modification of Spousal Support Orders
Either spouse can request the court to make certain changes to the spousal support. However, for this to push through, there needs to be a change in circumstances affecting the ability to make payments or causing the need for an increased amount. For instance, it could be that the receiving spouse obtains gainful employment or the supporting party loses his or her job and may no longer be able to pay for spousal support.
If your life or income has changed and you need to modify your support order, the best course of action is to contact an experienced San Diego spousal support attorney. Even if you have a reason to believe that you will find a new job and make the payments as usual, remember that different things come up and a delay in the payments can result in a lawsuit against you. Support orders in California are not changed immediately, it can be quite a process and before the new orders are given, you’ll still be required to make the payments in the same existing amount. Modification of spousal support follows the same procedure as that involved in its termination. In California, spousal support is terminated when the receiving spouse remarries, when one spouse dies, or when the court issues an order terminating the support payments. If you have a solid reason to modify or terminate a spousal support order, an attorney can help you through the process of obtaining a court order form the judge.
Enforcing Spousal Support
Unlike child support, spousal support is more difficult to enforce. In child support, for instance, failure to pay can result in liens, wage garnishment, and similar measures taken by the court to ensure that the payments are made. This does not apply in the case of spousal support and the only way to get the order enforced is by the payee spouse opening a contempt case in court. This, of course, can be a complex process. The court can, therefore, make additional orders in ensuring that the payer spouse continues to make monthly payments.
Failure to Pay Support as Ordered by the Court
The spouse that has been obligated by the Court to pay spousal support to the other party may find it prejudicial but this does not mean that you should not respect court orders. If you are not content with the court orders you are free to apply for an appeal. While the appeal is being processed, it’s important not to deliberately stop the payments before the appeal is ruled in your favor. Failing to pay may be considered as a charge of indirect civil derision of the court, or as a criminal condescension of the court. If you are charged with contempt of court you can either be fined and/or imprisoned.
Only those proven to have skipped one or more payments as a result of paperwork errors or time issues can be exempted from the penalties. Failing to pay spousal support or not informing the court that you are not in a position to pay the support does not only designate to the courts that you lack integrity but also serves as an attempt to cuckold your former spouse.
It’s important to note that all rules related to spousal support payments are case-specific. If you wish to contest any ruling related to spousal support, seek the help of an experienced California family law attorney. The attorney will advise on the best way to prepare your documents before appearing before the court for an appeal.
Finding a Spousal Support Attorney in California
Regardless of whether you're disputing or pursuing spousal support payments, our attorneys will provide you with aggressive representation given that spousal support is often combative and nasty part of the divorce process. Furthermore, our attorneys fully understand the factors applied when estimating the permanent spousal support and the disparities between permanent and temporary spousal support. With this, we can be able to provide you with the legal representation you deserve throughout this tough and emotional period. Our main goal is to articulate the facts and situations to the courts in a way that favors your take in the case.
The lawyers at San Diego Family Law Attorney can help you with:
- Pursuing temporary or permanent spousal support
- Arguments concerning unpaid spousal support
- Presenting a precise, comprehensive and expedient image of your assets in court
- Petitions to amend or dismiss spousal support payments
We can also act as mediators to help you come up with a spousal support agreement out of the court. A marital split’s an unfortunate event but if you need any legal help in ensuring that move on with your life as swiftly as possible. Contact us today at 619-610-7425 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our devoted attorneys.