Spousal support in California has been renamed the more popular term “alimony”.
You must first recognize that you have a legal obligation to support your spouse under certain circumstances.
Spousal support in California will be addressed differently by the court depending upon when it is to be provided. There are two different periods where support may be asked for, and the rules pertaining to each are very different.
Temporary spousal support in California
Temporary spousal support in California is available while a dissolution action or legal separation action is pending.
How to determine temporary spousal support in California in California
The purpose of spousal support in California is to allow the supported spouse to live in their accustomed means while they are going through a divorce.
In considering temporary spousal support in California, the court will examine the applicant’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay it.
The court will focus primarily on the marital standard of living.
But judges understand that a family income that provides a certain standard of living while the couple is living together is typically insufficient to provide the same marital standard of living for two households. So, the court will not be able to provide fully for the financial needs of both spouses.
In most cases, courts will rely upon the calculations derived from the use of the child support software. The calculations from the software are based on guidelines that will divide the family income proportionately. The guidelines will not be used for permanent spousal support in California.
- Long-term or permanent support may be provided to a spouse when your divorce is finalized.
How will the court award permanent spousal support?
Permanent spousal support in California
In considering permanent spousal support in California, the court can order a spouse to pay it for any amount and for any period of time the court believes is reasonable.
To consider what is reasonable, the Family Code lists 12 factors that a court must apply.
Generally, those factors are listed as follows:
- Marketable skills;
- The possibility of impaired ability to work due to periods of unemployment;
- Whether or not there have been contributions to the attainment of education or training;
- Whether or not the supporting party has an ability to pay spousal support in California;
- The respective needs of the parties by reference to the marital standard of living;
- The obligations and assets of each of the respective parties;
- The duration of the marriage and particularly with regard to whether or not the proposed supported spouse was employed during the marriage and whether the marriage is one requiring retention of the court’s jurisdiction;
- The impact of any child care upon the supported party’s ability to work;
- The ages and health of the parties respectively;
- Whether or not there was any documented domestic violence by either of the parties;
- The tax consequences on the proposed order, recognizing that spousal support in California is deductible to the payor and reportable as income by the payee;
- A balancing of the hardships upon each party.
It is a recognized goal of spousal support in California that each party to a marriage is to be, or will be, self-supporting.
When making spousal support in California order, the court will usually advise the supported party that they should make reasonable efforts to become self-supporting at some point in time.
Can these permanent orders be changed or modified?
Modification of Spousal support in California
Awards of permanent spousal support in California may usually be modified or terminated as the court finds necessary.
In order to obtain a modification of any spousal support order, the spouse must show a material change in circumstances since the order was made.
The court will look at the 12 factors to see if there has been a change in circumstances
Reasons for modifying spousal support in California
Certain events may prove to be an underlying reason for a change in permanent spousal support in California.
- Living with a new significant other.
When someone who is receiving spousal support in California is living with a person of the opposite sex, there is a presumption of a decreased need for spousal support in California. The new relationship must be a romantic one and not just a boarding house arrangement.
- Payor’s increased ability to pay.
Upon certain conditions, if the supporting party has an increased ability to pay, the spouse receiving spousal support in California can get an increase in the amount paid to them.
The conditions are as follows:
* Amount of support originally awarded was not enough to meet the needs of the supported ex-spouse; or
* The amount required to meet the supported party’s needs has increased.
Termination of Spousal support in California
Unless you agree in writing to the contrary, permanent spousal support in California will end on either party’s death or on the supported party’s remarriage. At any time, the payor spouse may motion the court to terminate spousal support in California.