No one is going to say that divorce is an easy process, and dealing with a potential loss of income can make things even more stressful. Alimony, or spousal support, is meant to help with that loss of income after separation, gaining you some financial assistance from your ex-partner. If you’re dealing with the difficult situation of a divorce and are trying to discover whether you deserve alimony from your spouse, it’s important to understand how spousal support is awarded.
In any California divorce, spousal support is a possible outcome of court proceedings. The two main kinds of spousal support in the state are long-term and temporary support. Temporary support is paid while the divorce is being processed, while the long-term support is paid after the divorce is over. Long-term spousal support is sometimes called permanent spousal support, but that doesn’t actually mean permanent, as many changes can occur.
How California Courts Determine Spousal Support
Judges in California divorce courts have different regulations for determining who pays alimony, how much alimony they pay, and how long those payments will last. There is also a difference between temporary and long-term spousal support. The courts look at a variety of circumstances regarding the two spouses when deciding the duration of alimony and the amount. Some of these factors are:
- Education level of each spouse
- Income of each party
- The relative health of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- The general standard of living both had
- Each party’s retirement benefits
- Other relevant factors
The court will use this information to decide who should receive spousal support from the other.
Who Pays for Spousal Support?
Either party can request spousal support. California alimony laws are gender neutral, and if one spouse has sufficient income to cover the other spouse’s financial needs, that party will likely be paying alimony. Spousal support is particularly important in cases where one spouse was a stay-at-home parent. If they relied on their spouse’s income, a divorce could be devastating for their financial income, particularly if they left a job for marriage or raising children. If the other party wishes their ex-spouse to continue having the same standard of living or continue to raise their children the same way, alimony is particularly useful.
Another way that spousal support might be critical is if one spouse left a career for marriage and now wishes to pursue the same career again. Support from the ex-spouse to pursue that career that was given up is important, whether the spouse wishes to receive further training or immediately work in that field.
While spousal support is often represented as a tool for revenge, this is not the case nor the reason for alimony payments. The supported spouse is, instead, able to maintain the way of living they became used to as they work to re-enter the job market or reach a more sustainable income.
The support given by alimony isn’t permanent; it’s meant to be a bridge from divorce to self-sufficiency. If you’re dealing with a case where you’re unsure if you deserve spousal support, it’s important to understand the issues within California courts. That way, you get the support you deserve.
Q: Why Does Someone Deserve Alimony?
A: There are many situations in which an ex-spouse deserves alimony. For example, if one spouse was a stay-at-home parent, they are going to lose their only source of income in divorce. However, spousal support can also allow a spouse to get more education or specific training to work toward a better life after separation and generally allow a spouse who didn’t receive as much income to continue to live as they used to.
Q: Do I Have to Support My Wife After Divorce?
A: Spousal support is not a part of every divorce case. Sometimes, no alimony is awarded. In California, spousal support is meant to allow both spouses to become self-sufficient, without alimony, in a reasonable amount of time. This self-sufficiency is meant to come about after alimony provides sufficient income for employment or resources are obtained. If incomes are disparate enough, spousal support is more likely, to allow the party with less income to maintain their standard of living.
Q: Why Do Guys Have to Pay Alimony?
A: Gender isn’t allowed to sway the result of an alimony case. In California, judges are not allowed to discriminate based on gender in any legal separation case, including divorce and spousal support.
Q: How Do You Get Around Spousal Support?
A: A different set of circumstances for one party or their ex-spouse since alimony was awarded could lead to termination of the spousal support order. These changes could include:
- The paying spouse has had a decreased income as a result of something outside the spouse’s control. It cannot be a deliberate decrease but instead an issue such as a layoff or long-term medical issue. Decreased income could also be from retirement if the spouse is over 65 years of age.
- The receiving spouse has had an increase in income or another positive change in lifestyle or finances.
- The receiving spouse has failed to make an effort to become self-supporting. If this is the case, the judge could issue a Gavron warning, indicating they are on notice to become self-sufficient.
- The spouse receiving support is living with a romantic partner.
Modifying Spousal Support
Unless there is an agreement between ex-spouses that the alimony cannot be modified, judges can modify the alimony if circumstances have changed. These circumstances are like those listed above for termination of spousal support but don’t result in complete termination. In such cases, file a request with the court for modification, which is meant to be a simple procedure. Unless you and your spouse have agreed on a plan for modification, however, it’s likely that your spousal support case would be best handled by an attorney capable of dealing with legal issues.
Learn How You Can Get the Spousal Support You Deserve
To get professional legal assistance in your spousal support case, contact the office of Paula D. Kleinman to see how we can help you get what you deserve.