Spousal support is not mandatory in a California divorce and is not common. However, when spousal support is awarded, it is because the court deems it necessary to provide financial support to a spouse so that each spouse has a similar level of standard of living as they had before the divorce. The court may assign spousal support, or spouses may agree to support through a separation agreement.
Spousal support is more likely in longer marriages or in those where spouses have a significant difference in wealth or separate assets. In California, the goal of assigning support is to give the supported spouse sufficient financial stability to become self-sufficient in a reasonable period of time. Spousal support can become a contentious issue in many divorces, and it’s important that spouses protect their rights and financial interests with a dedicated divorce lawyer.
Divorce is already a financially draining situation. A spouse who petitions for support payments will likely feel that any amount given to them does not cover the losses and costs that they are suffering. Conversely, the spouse who is paying support frequently feels that they are being required to pay more than they should. The financial instability of divorce can make support payments a contentious issue, even if spouses entered the divorce planning to cooperate.
At the Carlos Navarrete Law Firm, we understand that determining support payments can be complex and frustrating, and we want to help. For certain types of spousal support, many factors impact whether support is awarded. We can review your situation to determine if support is likely for your divorce case. Our attorneys have had more than 55 collective years of legal experience in Hanford and the nearby communities. This background means that we have in-depth knowledge of the local and state laws that govern divorces and spousal support, and we have strong working relationships with the local courts.
Spousal support is meant to help both spouses maintain their standard of living and financial stability after divorce. It is essential that any payments that are awarded be fair to both parties. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights and advocate for a fair support payment.
Spousal support involves one spouse providing monthly or lump sum payments to the other spouse during or after divorce. There is also support when registered domestic partners separate, called domestic partner support, which operates under similar guidelines.
There are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent support payments. Temporary support payments are made from one spouse to the other while divorce proceedings are still ongoing, and they end once it’s finalized. Permanent support payments are not typically permanent, but they are assigned after the finalization of the divorce. Permanent payments may last for many years.
Both types of support rely on one spouse’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay for that support. The exact amount of spousal support relies entirely on a couple’s unique needs, income, and other factors of their situation.
Once a divorce or separation case has been filed, a spouse with financial need can request temporary spousal support. Spouses who are obtaining an uncontested divorce may determine temporary and/or permanent spousal support in their separation agreement. A judge can then approve the amount. If spouses can’t reach an agreement, a family judge will determine the amount that is necessary and assign it.
California courts will determine if spousal support is appropriate based on the financial needs of a spouse who earns or has less and the capability of the other spouse to pay it. Although a divorce will impact a couple’s finances no matter what, the goal of temporary spousal support is to keep both parties on fairly equal ground throughout divorce proceedings.
Commonly, temporary support in California follows a formula. The monthly amount is calculated by subtracting 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s net income from 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s net income each month. However, many factors can alter this formula, such as the individual savings of each spouse or any large expenses incurred by either spouse.
In most situations, spousal support that is awarded during the divorce ends when the divorce is finalized. There may be a reason to modify support orders during a case, depending on a couple’s unique circumstances. If either spouse experienced a change in income, it is likely a reason to modify or terminate spousal support.
Permanent, or long-term, spousal support is awarded as part of the final court order for separation or divorce. The amount of these payments, and the amount of time that they last, depend on what the family court considers fair and reasonable for the couple, their marriage, and their lives after divorce. California family courts have a specific list of factors to review that determine if spousal support is assigned and for how much and how long.
Permanent spousal support exists to help a lower-earning spouse maintain financial stability after a divorce so they are able to become self-supporting. This may include additional job training, education, or further job experience to provide for themselves so they no longer need spousal support. Spousal support awarded by a judge may have unique conditions depending on the couple’s situation. This includes guidelines that determine when support will terminate or scheduled decreases in support over time.
Not all divorces result in permanent spousal support. If a marriage is long, or spouses have a large income gap, support is more likely. The longer a marriage is, the longer the court expects spousal support to be necessary. In most divorce or separation cases, the court will have the following assumptions:
Support may end once:
Spouses may also agree to an end date for support that the court approves.
There is no formula in the state to calculate permanent spousal support. The judge in a divorce or separation case determines support based on how long a lower-earning spouse will need to support themselves and the financial support that requires. The judge will look at several factors regarding the marriage to determine how long and how much payments should be. These factors include:
These are all factors that a judge must consider when assigning spousal support. If spouses are determining spousal support through a separation agreement, they are not required to follow these factors. However, they may still be useful, especially if spouses cannot determine an amount themselves.
An experienced divorce attorney understands the state laws and guidelines regarding spousal support payments and knows when it’s appropriate to seek temporary or permanent spousal support. In mediation or litigation, an attorney can present a clear and accurate description of your financial situation to show why support is or is not right for you and your spouse’s situation. Achieving the outcome you want in a divorce is more likely when you work with an attorney.
Spousal support payments can become a contentious issue, but an effective attorney can protect your needs for financial stability. At the Carlos Navarrete Law Firm, we can help you and your spouse mediate or negotiate your financial needs. Our firm can assist couples with composing a fair and supportive separation agreement that helps your family move forward. We understand how much is at risk in a divorce and the financial stressors that add to the emotional stressors. We can help guide you through a divorce or separation and represent you in litigation if you and your spouse are not able to negotiate the terms of an agreement. Contact the team at the Carlos Navarrete Law Firm today.
Fields Marked With An * Are Required