Spousal Support

When two people who have shared a household, income, and expenses separate, one of them may need some financial help from the other – most individuals know this as “alimony”. In California, we refer to alimony as "spousal support." Spousal support is available both while the divorce is pending (temporary spousal support, or also referred to as pendent lite spousal support) and after the divorce is final.  It should be noted that the calculation of spousal support differs somewhat depending on whether it is temporary/pendent lite spousal support, or “permanent” spousal support (after judgment).  It is important to note that “permanent” does not mean forever, it just means after judgment.

Spousal support can be one of the most complex and difficult issues to resolve in a California divorce. The assistance of an experienced California spousal support attorney can be invaluable in reaching a fair spousal support award.

Temporary spousal support and spousal support After Judgment in California

In California, temporary spousal support is intended to maintain the status quo—that is to say, it is supposed to keep the parties at approximately the same standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage. Temporary spousal support is determined by computer program, the same one that is used in determining child support. If child support is ordered, the calculation of alimony will take this into account. If for some reason child support ends, alimony may be increased to at least partially compensate. Temporary spousal support can be made retroactive to the date of the filing of the petition for divorce (or separation).

Spousal support after judgment is somewhat different. The goal of spousal support after judgment is to allow the party receiving support (referred to as the “supported party”) time to get on his or her feet and to become self-supporting, all within a reasonable period. With the exception of a long-term marriage, which is a marriage of more than ten years by the date of separation, a "reasonable period of time" is considered to be half the length of the marriage.

Parties are always encouraged, and thus free to negotiate their own spousal support agreement. However, if they are unable to reach an agreement, the calculation of spousal support is made after consideration of a number of factors that are set forth in California Family Code 4320. These factors include:

While alimony is generally awarded for approximately half the term of a marriage in a shorter term marriage, that does not mean that spousal support will be indefinite in a longer-term (over ten year) marriage. Unless the parties have specifically agreed that spousal support will not be modifiable, the court retains jurisdiction (power) to change or terminate spousal support at one or the other party’s request.

Kara can assist you with the complexities of California spousal support issues in order to determine if you are paying or receiving an amount that is fair.  If necessary, Kara will represent clients in motions to determine, modify or terminate spousal support as well.

If you have questions about California spousal support, please [contact the Law Office of Kara Schacher] to schedule a free consultation.


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