Spousal support, or alimony, will likely be an issue for divorcing couples when one spouse earns significantly more than the other. “Temporary support” can also be awarded for the support one party receives, or is required to pay, between the time the couple separated and the divorce is finalized. It is court ordered to enable the lower-income spouse to maintain their standard of living until they are able to ‘get on their feet’ following a divorce.
Spousal support is designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses. Essentially, it is designed to put the receiving spouse back near the marital standard of living. Spousal support is taxable to the receiving spouse and deductible to the paying spouse. The amount and duration of spousal support will be ordered by the court or be implemented by the terms of a settlement agreement.
It is not always a given that one party will be awarded spousal support. The court will examine various factors to determine whether or not spousal support should be awarded. These factors include, but are not limited to: Length of the marriage, earning capacity of the parties, the person’s standard of living during the marriage, and anticipated living expenses of the parties. Unlike child support, there is no guideline formula for spousal support, nor are there guidelines for the length of time spousal support must be paid. Each situation, like each couple dissolving their marriage, is different. The court will look at each case and make decisions based upon the circumstances. They do, however, have guidelines and legal precedence for making decisions about spousal support.
Factors that may come into play when the court makes its decision concerning spousal support include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The length of the marriage.
- The age of each of the parties and their health.
- Whether or not one party supported the other in educational, training, career or licensing efforts while married.
- The ability of one party to make spousal support payments based on their earning. capacity, assets, unearned and earned income, and their standard of living.
- Financial obligations and assets of both parties including property they own separately.
- The ability of the party receiving support to find employment that will not unduly interfere with dependent children for which they have custody.
- Tax consequence for each party that is specific and immediate.
If you have been married for longer than ten (10) years, the court cannot terminate its ability to award spousal support without an agreement by the parties. This means that the parties must agree that spousal support be terminated.
Our team of San Diego Family Law attorneys understands the spousal support laws in California. We are able to help you if you have questions. Contact us to set up an appointment.