Alimony–best known in California as “Spousal Support.
“Alimony is a system by which, when two people make a mistake, one of them keeps paying for it.” -Peggy Joce
What is Alimony?
Alimony is money (payment) that is payable by one spouse to the other. It can be temporary, while the divorce is pending, or it may be permanent. California now refers to alimony as spousal support. The lower-earning spouse may receive spousal support to help maintain the marital standard of living. Spousal support is not always guaranteed in California.
If you need legal help with your divorce case, our experienced Orange County divorce attorney can evaluate your situation and help resolve disputes regarding spousal support.
Types of Spousal Support
There are two types of spousal support in California: temporary and permanent support.
Temporary Support is from the date of filing of the Request for Order until the date of the judgment. The spouse requesting spousal support must file a Request for Order. The courts usually calculate the amount of spousal support by using the California child support calculator.
Permanent Support is ordered after trial or once the parties reach a final agreement on all issues in their divorce. The court sets the amount of support by considering 14 factors found in Family Code §4320. Spousal support is not permanent, but the duration of the support order will depend on whether the marriage was a short or long-term marriage. A long term marriage is determined by statute and is a marriage that lasts more than ten years.
Consult our skilled Orange County divorce lawyer by filling out the contact form or calling 949-894-4191 if you need help filing for alimony or spousal support in California.
There are several different factors used to determine spousal support.
One is rehabilitative alimony. It is typically used when the paying party worked during the marriage, and the other spouse has no income because he or she stayed at home with the children. The goal of this factor is to give the lower earning spouse enough support to allow the supported spouse time to gain valuable job skills or education in order to enter the workforce and become self-supporting.
Another alimony factor is the ability to become self-sufficient. After the divorce, one spouse needs to be able to support himself or herself. In order to do this the stay at home spouse needs financial support in order to raise the level of skill to enter the workforce.
The court can also consider reimbursement when it makes an order for spousal support. This is when one spouse helped the working spouse obtain their education or stayed home while the working spouse advanced a career during the marriage. Then the court considers this factor as a type reimbursement as a spousal support factor to recoup the funds used during the marriage to advance the working spouse’s career.
When does Spousal Support terminate?
It terminates when the court orders it to stop, there is a death with either party, or the supported party remarries or cohabitates with another adult.
The law generally protects the spouse with the lower earning capability. The lower earning will receive alimony for a certain amount of time from the other party with the higher income. Although it may seem unfair that you must support your ex-spouse, the goal is to ensure that both parties walk away from the marriage on balanced financial standing.
How long does alimony last?
For short-term marriages (under ten years) permanent alimony lasts no longer than half the length of the marriage (date of marriage until the date of separation). For example, if your marriage lasted eight years, you may expect to pay or receive alimony for four years.
For very short marriages (one year or less) permanent alimony may not be necessary. For example, if your marriage lasted for one year, you could expect to pay or receive alimony for six months.
For marriages that lasted more than ten years, judges will consider many factors in the case in order to decide the best alimony option for the supported spouse.
Can I Modify or Terminate Alimony?
Spousal support can be modified. You and your spouse can agree to change the amount or duration of alimony. If you both agree, a written contract should be entered into that states the new agreement, and the judge will need to convert it to an official court order.
If you cannot find a middle ground, then you will need to go to the court and the party that wants to modify alimony must file a motion with the court and show a “material change of circumstances” from the time the original spousal support order was made. For example, loss of job, income decreased, etc.
Lastly, support obligation will automatically terminate upon the death of the supported spouse.
Missed Spousal Support Payments
If you do not pay or miss multiple spousal support payments you will have consequences, such as jail time and or fines. Also, you must pay ten percent in interest per year on the balance that is due. The interest charges are added and differ by state and the judges cannot stop them.
Consult an Orange County Divorce Attorney!
If you’re filing for alimony or spousal support, always remember to consult with your attorney. Alimony can be complicated, especially if one of the parties has high income earnings. In addition, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with tax laws, whether you’re receiving or paying alimony.
Our experienced California divorce attorney in Orange County can provide legal assistance in your divorce proceeding and resolve disputes regarding alimony or spousal support. Call Trevino Law today to schedule a consultation and get legal help with your California divorce case!