Unlike child support, spousal support (also known as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance”) is not a right, and is within the discretion of the court. Spousal Support can be temporary or permanent, and is modifiable if there is a substantial change of circumstances.
A party can seek temporary Spousal Support. A party to a dissolution of marriage (“divorce”), usually applies for a temporary Spousal Support order shortly after the divorce action is filed. Temporary Spousal Support works as an emergency measure to provide a spouse with enough money to live, throughout the divorce process. Temporary Spousal Support is usually calculated according to a formula similar to calculating child support. Temporary Spousal Support, as well as permanent Spousal Support, is lower when the higher earner is also paying child support.
A party may seek permanent Spousal Support. Permanent Spousal Support cannot be determined according to a formula. In determining permanent Spousal Support, the court must consider the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, as well as, weigh the factors set forth in the Family Code. The parties’ income, expenses, or both determine the standard of living of a couple.
In California, each spouse has a duty to seek employment and become self-supporting to the best of his or her ability. Spousal Support may not be truly permanent because the spouse paying support can always go back to court to ask for a modification. An experienced attorney can be helpful in making sure the complex issue of Spousal Support is properly handled in your divorce action.
Spousal Support modifications are often litigated. This is because Spousal Support is discretionary with the court, and the party paying Spousal Support usually wants to receive a reduction in Spousal Support. The court considers Spousal Support modifications after the spouse seeking modification shows a change of circumstances. The change of circumstances may be one party's wage increase, the end of child support after the youngest child reaches the age of majority, the recipient of Spousal Support cohabitating with another person, or the mere passage of time.
Spousal Support awards and modifications can be difficult to obtain alone, it is important to seek the advice of a San Diego Family Law Attorney. In some cases, there are multiple trials for modification of Spousal Support. An experienced San Diego Family Law Attorney can help you prove a change a circumstance, or lack thereof.
If you are interested in obtaining an award of Spousal Support, or modify a previously existing order, don’t hesitate to contact Agape Law Firm