When you decide to end your marriage, you are not only facing the formal end of your marriage but also several other difficult legal processes that transfer ownership of your shared marital property to you and your spouse’s respective sole ownerships. Additionally, the California family court system must ensure both of you have the financial ability to transition from a single household to two separate households. In most divorce cases, this is more difficult for one spouse than the other.
Spousal support, commonly called “alimony,” is one of the financial subjects that requires careful attention during any Carlsbad divorce case. Depending on how much money you and your spouse earn and multiple additional factors, you could face a strict alimony agreement that affects you for years to come. If you expect alimony to come into play in your divorce case, whether you expect to pay or receive it, it’s essential to have a Carlsbad, CA, spousal support lawyer on your side to help you navigate your alimony determination with confidence and peace of mind.
Attorney Paula D. Kleinman provides a complete range of legal services for family law. If you need a Carlsbad, CA, spousal support attorney, our team will help you better understand the laws and statutes about spousal support in California, terms of eligibility for spousal support, and clearly understand your rights under the process. When you choose Paula D. Kleinman to represent you in your divorce case, you can expect close, personalized, and compassionate legal counsel. Our goal is to eliminate as much stress and uncertainty as possible during what is likely to be one of the most difficult experiences of your life.
Today, most married couples have two incomes, although some married couples still function successfully with just one spouse earning income. Whatever the case may be, most modern marriages include a higher-earning spouse and a lower-earning spouse. If a couple with such a financial arrangement decides to divorce, spousal support will allow the lower-earning spouse to adjust to their new single life more easily.
It’s possible to negotiate spousal support privately. Many married couples sign prenuptial contracts before marrying to make their financial responsibilities and expectations clear, including those about divorce should they decide to end their marriage. However, in many divorce cases, the ultimate decision regarding spousal support will rest in a family court judge’s hands.
If you and your spouse do not privately mediate your divorce and reach a spousal support agreement, a judge will decide an appropriate arrangement based on several factors:
Ultimately, every marriage is unique, so every divorce is unique as well. Your own spousal support determination could involve these and other considerations if left up to a judge. Remember that when a judge determines alimony, their general goal is to ensure the arrangement allows the lower-earning spouse to have a quality of life similar to what they experienced while married.
A spousal support agreement may be temporary, durational, or permanent. It’s common for a family court judge to order temporary spousal support while a divorce case unfolds before the temporary agreement morphs into a durational or permanent arrangement. If a judge determines spousal support, the factors they use to assign an appropriate amount also inform their decision concerning the spousal support agreement’s duration.
When the recipient of spousal support is likely to continue needing financial assistance for the rest of their life, alimony is permanent unless the recipient completes a “terminating action,” such as dying, remarrying, or cohabitating with a new partner. If the judge determines that the recipient only requires financial support for a certain time until they can be fully self-sufficient, they may order durational support. For example, suppose the lower-earning spouse earns close to as much income as the higher-earning spouse and needs financial support to move out on their own and establish their new single lifestyle. In that case, they may only receive durational alimony for one to five years.
California does not recognize common law marriage. This means that if you expect to enjoy the rights and legal protections afforded to married individuals, you and your spouse must obtain a marriage license and complete a marriage ceremony with an exchange of vows in a religious institution or courthouse. There are no common-law spouses in California, but it is possible for a couple that would technically fall under the classification of common-law spouses to have an alimony agreement in California if there is evidence of a written or implied contract.
These situations are commonly referred to as “palimony” cases. To prove your eligibility to receive financial support from an unmarried long-term partner, you must be able to prove that the two of you had a contract in place that stipulated financial support or met the requirements for an implied contract. For example, suppose you and your partner shared a joint bank account and comingled your finances for many years, paid bills together, and applied for loans jointly. In that case, these factors could qualify you for a palimony agreement.
Many couples marrying today create prenuptial contracts to assert financial protections for their marriage. A prenuptial contract can provide married spouses with financial peace of mind. These documents will establish their property ownership rights in marriage and their financial obligations during the marriage. It’s common for couples who draft prenuptial agreements to create postnuptial clauses that will outline each of their rights and obligations in the event they decide to divorce. If you and your fiancée plan to draw up a prenuptial contract, it’s vital to work closely with a Carlsbad, CA, spousal support attorney to determine what type of alimony terms would be most appropriate for your situation.
If you decide to divorce in the future, your respective attorneys will review your prenuptial contract to evaluate its legality and enforceability. As long as your prenuptial contract still accurately reflects your situation when you decide to divorce, you should expect any alimony terms included in the contract to apply as your divorce case unfolds.
Whether you reach an alimony agreement through collaborative divorce mediation or litigation, the terms of your agreement will include a list of terminating actions. Once taken by the recipient, these actions would nullify the payer’s obligation to continue paying alimony. For example, suppose the court orders you to pay your ex alimony and cohabitation with a new partner is a listed terminating action. If your spouse starts living with a new partner, you will no longer have any obligation to pay alimony.
Terminating actions can also include remarrying, completing the term outlined in a durational alimony arrangement, or the recipient’s death. If you are unsure whether recent events qualify as terminating actions, consult with your Carlsbad, CA, spousal support lawyer to determine if you are still required to pay alimony after these events transpire.
Spousal support can be one of the most difficult subjects to handle in a divorce. Regardless of what personal issues may have led to your divorce, it is challenging to accept that the court requires you to continue providing your ex with financial support. On the other side of this kind of arrangement, you may feel as though you are financially at the mercy of your ex if the court determines you are eligible to receive alimony.
Reliable legal representation is the best asset you can have when facing a difficult and multifaceted divorce case. If you are expecting to divorce in the near future and are ready to speak with a compassionate and experienced Carlsbad, CA, spousal support lawyer about your situation, contact Paula D. Kleinman today for more information about how our firm’s resources and experience can assist you in your divorce proceedings.
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