Spousal Support Frequently Asked Questions
Below is an overview of frequently asked questions we receive regarding spousal support in California. Contact us for more information about how to obtain spousal support in California. Read on to learn more.
1. What is spousal support?
Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is the payment of monies from one spouse to another. Spousal support can be requested upon filing for legal separation or divorce. A spouse can request a temporary spousal support order while the divorce is being resolved. A permanent support order may be granted along with the final judgment.
California spousal support laws seek to maintain the marital standard of living post-separation or divorce. Spousal support is awarded to maintain the status quo of marriage income while the supported spouse obtains employment or resources to meet their cost of living needs.
2. What is temporary spousal support?
Temporary spousal support provides financial support to the lower-earning spouse during the divorce proceedings. A temporary spousal support order will last until a permanent spousal support award is granted. The amount of temporary spousal support awarded is based on a mathematical formula which considers both spouse’s income and tax filing status.
3. What is permanent spousal support?
Permanent spousal support is a support payment made from the payor spouse to the supported spouse. Permanent spousal support is granted to maintain the marital standard of living after the divorce. The court will consider the following factors when determining permanent spousal support:
- The age and health of the spouses
- The supported spouse’s ability to work
- The length of the marriage
- Both spouse’s debts and assets
- Both spouse’s financial needs based on the marital standard of living
- The paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony
- The extent to which the supported spouse attributed to the paying spouse’s attainment of education, career, and professional licensing
- The extent to which the supported spouse’s earning capacity was impaired due to gaps of unemployment to support the paying spouse’s career
- The marketable skills of the supported spouse
Permanent spousal support is not paid indefinitely to a supported spouse. The length of payment depends on the length of marriage. For short-term marriages, marriages lasting less than ten years, permanent spousal support will last no longer than half the length of the marriage. For marriages lasting less than one year, a supported spouse could expect to receive permanent spousal support for up to six months (usually through a temporary spousal support order). For long term marriages, a marriage lasting more than ten years, there is no affixed rule for determining how long spousal support should last. It will continue until the supporting spouse reasonably becomes self-supporting.
4. How can I obtain a spousal support?
To obtain a spousal support order in California, you must have an open divorce, legal separation, or domestic violence restraining order case. A spouse seeking support will have to file a Request for Order to obtain temporary spousal support during a divorce or legal separation. The following forms must be completed and filed with the court clerk:
Once filed, the court clerk will provide the moving party with a court date. The filed papers must be served on the other party. Proof of Service form FL-335 must be filed with the court. The moving party must attend the court hearing and present evidence as to why the judge should rule in his/her favor. The judge will grant or deny the order.
6. How can I modify my spousal support order?
A permanent spousal support order can be modified. To modify a spousal support order, the court must have the power to order spousal support and the current spousal support order must be modifiable. The moving party must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances to warrant modification. This may include a change of employment, a material change of income for either party, or a loss of health insurance.
7. Do I have to pay my wife spousal support?
Contrary to popular belief, husband and wife both have equal grounds to obtain a spousal support order. The lower-earning spouse can request an order. Courts do not automatically grant spousal support orders to divorcing “wives.” There is no automatic award of spousal support to either spouse.
8. Is spousal support tax deductible in California?
Yes. The paying spouse can deduct spousal support paid during the tax year in which he/she is filling. Spousal support is non-deductible for jointly filed tax returns.
9. How does domestic violence effect spousal support?
The occurrence of domestic violence throughout a marriage is considered when a judge is determining permanent spousal support. The domestic violence must be documented. If a spouse is convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse within the past five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that the perpetrating spouse is not entitled to receive spousal support.
11. Can I receive spousal and child support?
Spousal support may be ordered along with child support. If child support is being paid to the supporting spouse, his/her spousal support amount will be reduced. When child support ends, the supported spouse may petition the court to increase the amount of spousal support he/she receives. The supported spouse will have to file a post-judgment motion.
14. Can I stop paying spousal support upon retirement?
Yes. A person is entitled to retire at age 65. He/she cannot be required to work to support his/her spouse beyond that age.
15. Does a raise affect spousal support payments?
Not exactly. The court does not consider increased post-separation earnings as a basis of awarding support beyond which is justified by the marital standard of living.
16. Does a loss of income affect spousal support?
Yes. If you have recently loss your job or had your income reduced, you may qualify for a temporary abatement of paying spousal support.
Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about spousal support in California. We can help you obtain or modify your spousal support order.