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Marriage often requires one spouse to sacrifice income to take care of the children or home. To address financial inequality in marriage California family law provides for spousal support in divorce under certain circumstances. (Note – spousal support is not mandatory in divorce). An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand spousal support and secure a financially advantageous support order.
A spousal support order favoring one spouse can significantly impact the finances of the other party. For example, the higher-earning spouse paying both spousal and child support may experience a significant drop in their standard of living, despite any ‘equitable goals’ contained in the Family Code. Accordingly, spousal support is a frequently contested matter in divorce proceedings.
How Spousal Support Works in Divorce
Spousal support is designed to assist the lower-earning party after divorce while they work to become financially independent. Accordingly, spousal support and alimony work in the same manner; the higher-earning spouse pays a set amount of money over time to help the lower-earning spouse become financially independent after divorce or separation.
In theory spousal support will allow the spouses to maintain a standard of living approximate to the standard experienced during marriage, but in reality the demands of maintaining two households can result in significant financial strain.
Spousal Support Factors
Spousal support is not mandatory in dissolution proceedings. To determine whether permanent support will be awarded the court will weigh, and your family law attorney will argue utilizing, the following factors:
- Whether the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during marriage. In so doing, the court will evaluate the potential recipient’s marketable skills and the job market for those skills.
- If the supported party contributed to the supporting party’s education, career or license.
- Whether the supporting party has the ability to pay spousal support after looking to their earning capacity and assets.
- Each party’s needs based on the marital standard of living
- Each party’s obligations and assets, including separate property, to determine both ability to pay and need.
- The length of the marriage
- Supported party’s ability to engage in employment without jeopardizing the interests of dependent children.
- The age and health of the parties.
- Any history of domestic violence.
- Tax consequences of spousal support.
- Balance of hardships to each party.
- The goal that the supported party will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
- Convictions for domestic violence, attempted murder or solicitation or murder of the other spouse.
- Conviction for a violent sexual felony by one spouse against the other.