When two people who have shared a household, income, and expenses separate, one of them may need some financial help from the other: alimony. In California, alimony is called "spousal support." Spousal support is available both while the divorce is pending (temporary alimony) and after it is final, though the calculation of support differs somewhat between the two situations.
Spousal support can be one of the most complex and difficult issues to resolve in a California divorce. The assistance of an experienced California alimony attorney can be invaluable in reaching a fair alimony award.
Temporary Alimony and Alimony After Judgment in California
In California, temporary spousal support is intended to maintain the status quo—that is to say, it is supposed to keep the parties at approximately the same standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage. Temporary spousal support is determined by computer program, the same one that is used in determining child support. If child support is ordered, the calculation of alimony will take this into account. If for some reason child support ends, alimony may be increased to at least partially compensate. Temporary spousal support can be made retroactive to the date of the filing of the petition for divorce (or separation).
Spousal support after judgment works somewhat differently. The goal of spousal support after judgment is to allow the party receiving support time to get on his or her feet and to become self-supporting within a reasonable period. With the exception of a long-term marriage (a marriage of more than ten years by the date of separation), a "reasonable period of time" is considered to be half the length of the marriage.
Parties are free to negotiate their own spousal support agreement. If they are unable to reach an agreement, calculation of spousal support is made after consideration of a number of factors set forth in California Family Code 4320. These factors include:
- The earning capacity of each party;
- The extent to which the efforts of the party receiving support contributed to the education or professional position of the party paying support;
- The ability of the supporting party to pay support;
- The age and health of the parties;
- Each party's needs;
- The length of the marriage;
- Evidence of domestic violence;
- Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
While alimony is generally awarded for approximately half the term of a marriage in a shorter term marriage, that does not mean that spousal support will be indefinite in a longer-term (over ten year) marriage. Unless the parties have specifically agreed that spousal support will not be modifiable, the court retains jurisdiction (power) to change or terminate spousal support at one party's request.
Spousal Support Attorneys Serving California's Central Coast
At Comstock & Wagner, divorce and family law, including spousal support, are all we do. Our attorneys are California board-certified family law specialists who have demonstrated broad-based and comprehensive experience in the practice of family law, in addition to meeting other stringent certification requirements. Our spousal support attorneys can assist you with the complexities of California spousal support calculations, so that you are paying or receiving an amount that is fair.
We assist clients with a variety of spousal support matters, including spousal support negotiations or presentations of evidence to the court. We also help clients in complex situations, including those involving significant income of a supporting party, irregular income, or concealed income. We represent clients in motions to modify or terminate spousal support as well.
Comstock & Wagner is conveniently located in a private building with off-street parking near the courthouse in Santa Maria. The represents clients throughout the central coast of California, including Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.
If you have questions about California alimony, we invite you to contact Comstock & Wagner to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.