For two people who have shared a life for years or even decades, divorce can be a harrowing, but sometimes necessary decision. With the help of Los Angeles spousal support attorneys, most people deciding to divorce have questions about child custody, division of property, and spousal support.
What Is Spouse Support in California?
A court orders spousal support or alimony is a contract between two spouses with unequal income. The contract mandates that the spouse who earns more support the other for a specific period after their divorce. In the past, women who stayed at home to take care of the house and children without any income received alimony.
Our Los Angeles spousal support attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC prides itself on offering exceptional family law services to clients in Los Angeles County. Our experienced team of alimony attorneys is committed to providing thorough and fair representation to divorcing couples, negotiating reasonable alimony agreements, and winning substantial awards in court. It is deeply important to us that skilled divorce lawyers are accessible to all. As such, we offer our services at affordable rates and can communicate with clients in five languages: French, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, and English. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your divorce.
Understanding Spousal Support in California
Spousal support comes in many forms and will vary depending on your state of residence:
Types of California Spousal Support
California recognizes four types of spousal support: temporary, rehabilitative, permanent, and reimbursement support.
- Temporary spousal support typically lasts from the date it is requested to the date that the divorce is finalized. During this period, the court mandates that the higher-earning spouse provide financial assistance to cover the lower-earning spouse’s cost of living. Unlike other forms of spousal support, the court calculates this amount using California’s child support guidelines.
- Rehabilitative support is commonly awarded to single-income households in which one spouse worked at home without income. Rehabilitative support is sustained financial support paid to this spouse while they acquire new job skills or education. The court decides how long this support must be provided, taking into account the length of time it will take the supported spouse to gain new skills and find suitable employment.
- Permanent support is relatively rare and is usually only awarded to couples who have been married for at least 10 years. If the lower-earning spouse is unable to support themselves due to old age or disability, a judge may require the higher-earning spouse to support them for the rest of their life or until they marry someone else who can provide for them.
- Reimbursement support is unique to California. If one spouse helped pay for the other’s education or professional development, they may request reimbursement from the other spouse. In the court’s view, the paying spouse contributed to the other’s earning capacity, but will no longer benefit from that investment once the divorce is finalized. Therefore, they may request remuneration.
Factors Used to Determine California Spousal Support
To qualify for spousal support, a couple must first prove that one spouse requires support and that the other spouse can afford to provide it. Once this is demonstrated, a California judge will consider the following factors when awarding rehabilitative and permanent support:
- The marriage length;
- The age and physical/emotional health of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity;
- The marital standard of living, as well as the higher-earning spouse’s future independent standard of living;
- Each spouse’s assets and debts, as well as separate property;
- Any tax implications a divorce would have for each spouse;
- Any recorded history of domestic violence perpetrated by one spouse against the other, or against dependents, and any related criminal convictions; and
- The balance of hardships to each spouse. In divorce law, a hardship is any circumstance that negatively impacts a parent’s ability to financially support their children. Courts endeavor to avoid hardships at all costs and work to create a divorce settlement that is equitable in what it asks of each party. However, it is not uncommon for divorced spouses to re-enter legal negotiations about spousal support if an unforeseen circumstance creates a hardship after the divorce has been finalized.
How Can an Alimony Attorney Help?
The benefits of hiring an alimony attorney are numerous. A skilled alimony attorney can:
- explain what spousal or partner support is, including its potential tax impacts;
- estimate how long a lower-earning spouse could expect to receive support, and assist them in requesting that amount;
- help each party to understand their rights and responsibilities as the supported or supporting spouse;
- write an airtight support agreement, thus court;
- prepare court documentation, ensuring that it is thoroughly and correctly filled out; and
- request a change or end to a spousal support order.
Involving Los Angeles spousal support attorneys does not mean you and your spouse have to go to court. Alimony attorneys can act as mediators, negotiating a support contract that is fair to both parties and submitting it to the court on the couple’s behalf.
However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on alimony terms, a good lawyer will fight for you in court and ensure that you receive the spousal support you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Qualifies Someone For Spousal Support?
To receive spousal support in California, the couple must demonstrate to the judge that one spouse needs support, and the other spouse can afford to provide it. The type and duration of spousal support awarded are highly subjective and depend on the specific circumstances of each case, including the factors mentioned above. In addition, the judge must take into account each person’s debts, any business ventures that the couple had together, and the terms outlined in any prenuptial agreements.
Once a supported spouse attains a job that will sufficiently support them or marries someone who can provide for them, they no longer qualify for spousal support.
Is Spousal Support Mandatory in California?
Alimony is not guaranteed in the states of California or Hawaii. However, if a couple agrees upon alimony terms without court intervention, a judge will usually accept those terms. Once the court accepts or mandates an alimony contract, it is illegal for the supporting spouse not to pay. If you pay alimony and lose your job, your ability to work, or file for bankruptcy, you must continue to pay until you request a change to your alimony agreement and that change has been granted.
What Happens if Alimony Isn’t Paid?
It is illegal not to pay alimony in both California and Hawaii. Supporting spouses must pay in full and on time. If you cannot pay alimony, you must request an alimony agreement modification from the court. You must continue to pay unless and until the court has accepted the requested modification.
Contact Our Compassionate Spousal Support Lawyers Today
It’s undeniable that divorce is a difficult and stressful time in a couple’s life. The empathetic and experienced spousal support attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC, will work to minimize your hardship and make the transition to your new lives apart as smooth as possible. Contact our Los Angeles office today for a confidential consultation about your alimony case.