Spousal Support in the State of California
When going through a divorce, one person may be eligible for spousal support from their partner. This means one spouse makes payments to the other for them to maintain what the court calls the “status quo” during the divorce proceedings and before everything is finalized. Spousal support, or alimony payments (these terms are interchangeable), is meant to provide financial support between the time it takes for that spouse to obtain employment or resources to become self-supporting. Often during a divorce, one spouse has been out of the workforce, and they cannot quickly reintegrate and find employment, and maintain their lifestyle. Therefore, spousal support payments aim to prevent one spouse from suffering an immediate decrease in their standard of living.
Tracy Duell-Cazes is a family law attorney and a Certified Family Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the California State Bar.
Spousal Support is a Main Factor in Divorce Agreements
Most divorce cases include the issues of spousal support and child support. How spousal support is handled is different with every case depending on circumstances. If it is a part of a divorce, it can immediately become one of the biggest expenses incurred. Spousal support can last for years, so every adjustment can mean a difference of thousands of dollars. To calculate spousal support, you can settle out of court or pursue litigation. The amount cannot be calculated automatically with a computer, so while settling out of court may save you legal fees in the short term, the long-term effects of a spousal support agreement that is not litigated could cause you to lose money in the long run.
By pursuing litigation, the terms of support will be much firmer. Spousal earning capacity can be established by the testimony of a licensed vocational counselor, arrangements for making modifications, or termination of support in the case of a change in income for either party and the spouse paying the support payments will be able to hash out their payment in accordance with all aspects of their income.
Spousal Support Includes Many Considerations
There are numerous factors to consider in determining spousal support. Things like upcoming retirement, remarriage, and self-employment can affect spousal support amounts while something like a prospective raise cannot. Similarly, since California is a no-fault state, any affairs your partner may have had are not taken into consideration when deciding support unless they are cohabitating with another partner, which would decrease their need for income.
In addition to the amount per month that is paid, the duration of spousal support payments also needs to be determined. A general rule of thumb is that payments will last for half the length of a marriage that lasted less than ten years. If the marriage lasted longer than ten years the court will not set a time limit for spousal support. In this case, the burden to prove that spousal support is no longer necessary will fall on the party who pays support.
What is the Difference Between Temporary Spousal Support and Permanent Spousal Support?
Temporary Spousal Support is court-ordered support that is calculated by a legal formula that is paid during a divorce, legal separation, or annulment. Permanent Spousal Support is ordered at the end of the divorce and is not calculated through any formula.
Temporary Support can be ordered during an annulment, but permanent support cannot be ordered once the annulment is granted. Temporary Spousal Support includes an end date and must be renewed once it expires. Permanent Spousal Support does not always include a specific end date.
Changes to the Tax Law Effects Spousal Support
With the change in the tax laws this year, the issue of finalization of the spousal support issue this year becomes more critical. Beginning with orders entered in 2019 spousal support will no longer be tax-deductible to the paying spouse and conversely non-taxable to the receiving spouse. It is important that this issue be reviewed and a plan of action be established this year as soon as possible if the parties wish to maintain the tax benefits for spousal support orders.
In total, spousal support is something that can weigh heavily on divorce proceedings. For the paying spouse, it can be a large expense on top of divorce proceedings that needs to be realized and for the unemployed spouse, it can save them a large financial burden in the long run. If you find yourself in a position where you may need to receive or pay spousal support, taking the proceedings for support to court may seem like a hassle in the short term, but the long-term effects of such a significant part of a divorce can make the extra court proceedings worth it.
Contact the Law Office of Tracy Duell-Cazes
Spousal Support Attorney Tracy Duell-Cazes, or TDC Family Law, we work with our clients offering legal advice and counsel to work through all of the concerns and considerations as it pertains to Spousal Support.
Contact TDC Family Law for all of your Spousal Support issues.