Spousal Support and Divorce
Spousal support is often one of the most challenged aspects of a divorce. It is not always clear that spousal support is warranted. Each spouse will be leading separate lives and will be responsible for making ends meet. This is true whether or not children are involved. Many divorcing couples fight over money and custody of children. Once these issues are resolved, spousal support often remains on the table. The spouse that may have to pay support to the other spouse often resents having to provide money long after the divorce is finalized. In some cases, spousal support or alimony is a life-long obligation. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about spousal support that often inform how spouses behave during a divorce. Hiring a family law attorney in California may be necessary to better understand the law and to remain amicable toward your spouse.
Not All Divorce Settlements Include Spousal Support
Do not assume spousal support will be a factor in your divorce. The reality is that spousal support is awarded in less than 15% of all divorce cases. To receive support, spouses are required to qualify for it. The basic issue has to do with standard of living. Both spouses must be able to maintain the same living standards they had while married. This is not always possible if one of the spouses has no work history or limited skills to obtain a job with sufficient pay to maintain their lifestyle. The court will consider this along with other factors including whether one spouse was the primary caregiver of the children or if one spouse held a job so the other spouse could get a college degree. These are just examples of the many factors used by courts to determine if spousal support should be awarded. Clearly the majority of couples going through a divorce do not meet most of these factors that contribute to spousal support. It is not necessary to postpone getting a divorce because you are afraid of alimony payments. Most divorces do not include spousal support and those that do can be calculated so payments are reasonable.
Not All Spousal Support is a Long-Term Obligation
Life-long or permanent spousal support does indeed exist in some places. The intent of spousal support in California is to provide appropriate financial support until the supported spouse is self-sufficient. The law requires this self-sufficiency to take place in a “reasonable period of time” which is typically half the time a marriage lasted as long as the length of marriage did not exceed ten years. Spousal support also ends when the supported spouse remarries or passes away.
Not All Spousal Support Payments Remain the Same
It is possible to change the amount you pay in spousal support. This typically occurs if you become unemployed, get a decrease in pay, or get a job that pays less. You have every right to submit a petition to the family court to either reduce payment amounts or temporarily stop them altogether. You can also do this if you learn that your ex-spouse is earning more money.
Not All Spousal Support is Unconditional
Your ex-spouse is required to seek employment as a condition of receiving spousal support. If this does not occur, you are allowed to ask a vocational assessor to evaluate your ex-spouse’s skills to determine if they have marketable skills they could be using to get and keep a job. You can submit the assessor’s findings to court to either get your payments reduced or terminated. The court may be willing to do this if you can clearly show that your ex-spouse is avoiding going to work.