Sometimes called alimony or maintenance in other states, “spousal support” is a significant feature of California family law. It is designed to reduce the disparity in resources between spouses after separation, and can include short or long-term financial help from the higher earner to the lower-earner, depending on many factors.
Times Have Changed, And So Has Spousal SupportM/h3>
At one time, men almost invariably paid spousal support and women received it. That’s no longer the case. Many women are now earning more than their husbands, and a growing number of spousal support awards reflect that fact.
It also used to be common for spousal support to be a lifelong obligation. Now, spousal support is typically one-half the duration of marriage, for those under 10 years. Long term marriages have no statutory limits on the duration of spousal support, but that does not mean endless spousal support.
How Support Works
Spousal support is usually established early in the divorce case through a court motion filed by the requesting party. It will not be automatically ordered. Spousal support starts effective with the date of filing the motion, with limited exceptions. At the hearing on the motion (or if a written agreement is reached), then “temporary spousal support” is payable to the lower earner each month until modified or the divorce judgment is entered. The amount is usually based upon a calculation prepared using “guideline” software called DissoMaster or SupporTax.
Post-judgment spousal support must be addressed as to each party in the divorce judgment. Spousal support in California is largely governed by Family Code Section 4320, a code that provides the court a great deal of latitude to the judge in determining the amount and duration of post-judgment spousal support – based upon factors such as the standard of living during the marriage, respective incomes and age/health of the parties. Support orders can be modified over time unless a couple originally agreed to make the order unchangeable.
Today, a “Gavron warning” calls on spousal support recipients to use good faith efforts to contribute to self-support within a reasonable period of time. This, coupled with a vocational evaluation and/or seek work order, usually means both spouses have to work full time at their earning capacity, no matter the history during the marriage. Exceptions exist for disabled spouses, the needs of young children and time for acquiring necessary skills/training to re-enter the workforce, etc.
Why You Need An Attorney
Regardless of whether you need/receive spousal support or are dealing with an order to pay spousal support, it is wise to seek the help of an experienced lawyer. At States Family Law, I help clients present the strongest arguments for the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support, and ensure a fair process when a vocational evaluation or seek-work order is involved. A lawyer with expertise in the area of spousal support is important to navigate this complicated area of the law. I am equipped to provide that to you.
Contact The Firm To Learn More
Located in Sacramento, States Family Law offers high-quality legal representation and personalized attention to all clients. To discuss your legal needs, call me at 916-696-2425 or fill out this online contact form.