How Is Spousal Support Decided in California?
Divorce is a complex legal process, and legal separation might involve several new systems that must be adapted. When adjusting to a fresh divorce, dividing assets, setting up child visitation plans, and separating joint bank accounts are expected parts of the separation process. Spousal support is one of the most hotly contested aspects of a divorce settlement. It is critical for anyone getting divorced to comprehend how these payment schedules are made and assigned during the settlement process.
What Is Spousal Support?
After a divorce, spousal support—also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance—is a payment arrangement that enables lower-income partners to retain their financial security. Consider a scenario where one partner in a marriage is the main provider. In that situation, the divorce settlement may include a payment schedule based on their incomes, the length of their marriage, and any unpaid obligations. The higher-earning spouse may be required to provide money each month to the lower-earning spouse. This spousal support will be received in addition to other payments, such as child support, to help them feel more financially secure.
What Factors Go Into Deciding Spousal Support?
To create a plan that adequately supports both parties, the various criteria that are taken into account when assessing a spousal support case integrate each party’s economic standing with other aspects of their lives and marriage. The variables that affect monthly spousal support payments and the resulting spousal support payment plan can vary depending on each spouse’s finances, employment situation, and childcare duties. These are some of the main considerations for these payments:
- Financial Responsibilities: Any spousal support system considers each spouse’s unique financial responsibilities when deciding payments. It then evaluates and divides assets to create a spousal support payment plan. Job security is the primary indicator of stable income required for the court’s total computations. Overall spousal support payment plans will include accruing assets, awarded assets, general financial situation, income, and any applicable tax laws.
- Child Custody: The costs associated with sharing children, as well as who gets custody, can be taken into account when determining one party’s financial situation. While spousal support is separate from child support payments and is intended for the spouse instead of a child, previously agreed-upon financial situations about shared children can be used for determining spousal support. For instance, a couple has a child who will be attending college or another institution with annual tuition, and one parent agrees to pay the tuition. That can be considered a financial obligation during spousal support negotiations.
- Health and Age: When creating a spousal support plan, the health and ages of both parties are important. The terms of a spousal support agreement may alter following these conditions, depending on the ages of each party and the support-receiving party’s health at the time of the divorce. For instance, chronic health issues, particularly those that necessitate high routine expenditures, can become large monthly expenses. This can result in a reduction or increase in spousal support payments to make up for this anticipated routine payment.
- Job Retention: Employment status indicates one’s ability to afford spousal support. When there are two working spouses, the one making the higher yearly income is responsible for paying spousal support to the spouse making the lower income. Each party’s earning potential is considered when creating a monthly payment schedule, as are any anticipated changes to future earning potential. Unemployment or an increase in childcare responsibilities that reduce the time available for work are also discussed when determining spousal support.
Spousal support payments take into account any financial aspects of a married couple when deciding who pays for support. In some cases, the spouse ordered to pay spousal support may be required to cover the court expenses of the other spouse. However, this is not guaranteed for all spousal support decisions. Any information regarding financial standings, asset retention, childcare responsibilities, etc., should be submitted to the court.
Q: Will my spouse be ordered to pay spousal support?
A: Both spouses may apply for support under California’s gender-neutral spousal support legislation. Regardless of gender, the judge will require the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal support to the lower-earning spouse if one spouse needs financial support and the other can do so. California courts have decided that the amount of support should be determined by the requirements to sustain the standard of living that the couple enjoyed throughout their marriage. This is a key factor when determining whether a spouse needs temporary alimony.
Q: Is spousal support the same as alimony?
A: Spousal support is another term used to describe alimony. A court may order one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other spousal support or alimony to assist with the other’s monthly expenses. In California, support between married individuals is referred to as “spousal support.” Between domestic partners, it is referred to as “domestic partner support.”
Q: How does the court decide which spouse pays spousal support?
A: Depending on the case, alimony may be optional and not used in every support case. The court may, however, order one spouse to pay alimony to the other if their combined income is much greater than the other spouse’s. Each spouse’s ability to support themselves, total marriage length, and standard of living are considered when creating a support order.
Q: Can spousal support be modified?
A: The court may be asked to change the spousal support decree at either spouse’s request. The courts do, however, require a good cause for the adjustment. The court will only accept evidence from the spouse who is asking for a modification of the order. The reasons for changing a spousal support payment plan can range from financial changes to an ex-spouse’s new marital status.
Finding a Family Law Attorney for Spousal Support
Going through the divorce process is complicated, especially when facing alimony or spousal support payments. Navigating California’s marital support laws requires excellent legal representation that can adequately represent their client’s financial standing to the court for any decisions on support payments. At Bickford Blado & Botros, our team can help with any alimony deliberations, so visit our website and contact us today.
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