It is a shock for many to learn that spousal support is not very common. About 10 to 15 percent of divorces or legal separations will result in the obligation of one former spouse to pay support. Since there are a multitude of misconceptions surrounding spousal support, it is imperative to look into factual information.
When Spousal Support May Be Required
A California family court may order one of the divorcing parties to pay the other when certain conditions are met. The court-ordered spousal support is set a specific amount and will be scheduled to be paid on a regular basis, which is usually monthly. It should be noted that spousal support is commonly referred to as alimony.
A person petitioning for spousal support can do so under any of the following cases:
- Legal separation,
- Annulment, or
- Domestic violence restraining order
Even when a case is still pending, temporary support can be awarded. Once the case has been finalized, a family court judge may issue permanent support or long-term spousal support.
Determining the Amount to Be Paid
For the most part, California courts will use a formula to determine the amount the paying spouse will provide. Depending on the court, however, slightly different factors may be utilized. According to the California Family Code §4320, however, the following factors will be considered:
- The duration of the domestic partnership or marriage;
- The individual needs of each party, based on his or her standard of living in the duration of the partnership;
- What each individual party will be able to afford in order to maintain his or her standard of living;
- Whether being employed will affect either party’s ability to care for the children;
- The health of each party;
- The age of each party;
- The outstanding debts and property each party has; and/or
- Whether one party helped the other get through a professional license, education, or career.
Changes in One’s Financial Situation
Changes in one’s finances is not uncommon. In the event that paying spouse loses his or her job or is facing an increase in his or her income, he or she can petition the court to have the support revised and potentially modified. When there has been a change in finances, it is important to seek a modification as soon as possible. Any changes to the obligation to pay will not date from the time the financial situation changed; rather, it will date from the time the new order is ordered by the court.
Know Your Rights, Speak to a Qualified Family Law Attorney
If you have questions regarding spousal support, it is critical to seek professional legal counsel. Legal separations and divorces in California can be very complex and time consuming. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney about how you can protect your rights and interests throughout a divorce process.
The family law attorneys at RM Law Group, LLP have many years of experience helping individuals facing spousal support. Spousal support in California can be complicated and it is essential to seek legal support in order to increase the chance of a positive outcome. Contact the firm today for a free case evaluation.