How Is Spousal Support Determined?

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How Is Spousal Support Determined?

When two people are getting a divorce in the state of California, support payments can have an impact on how property distribution is awarded, therefore, alimony can directly affect the outcome of a divorce. If you and your spouse are having difficulty coming to an agreement over support payments, the Superior Court can step in and order one spouse to pay support to the other on a case-by-case basis.

No two marriages are alike, nor are the reasons for getting a divorce. There are times when a husband or wife may seek alimony payments from their spouse in a divorce. Spousal support serves a specific purpose in divorce cases – it’s meant to provide economic support to one spouse who has a much lower earning potential capacity over the other spouse.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to be in the workforce, commanding a high-salary, while the other spouse manages the household and cares for the children. Although only one person is making money, it is considered that both spouses are contributing to the marriage and the family unit. If this couple were to get a divorce, the wife might seek spousal support until she can become self-sufficient.

The courts will take into consideration how long it will take the wife to become self-supporting and what actions she must take to get there. For some, it might take four or five years – the length of time it takes to go back to college and earn a degree. This is especially true if the couple decides that the mother would keep the family home and custody of the couple’s children.

As courts want to cause as little disruption in the children’s lives as possible, they might award the mother spousal support for a number of years as without alimony, she wouldn’t be financially capable of keeping up the payments and standard of living that she and the children previously enjoyed.

Whenever a divorcing spouse seeks support payments, there are certain factors that the judge will take into consideration when making that determination. First and foremost, the court will take into consideration the length of the marriage. The courts would be far more inclined to award alimony to a man or women who were married for ten years versus someone who was married for only a year.

They will also look at what each spouse needs. For example, one spouse may have a solid, steady job, while the other spouse might be unemployed. On the other hand, if one spouse were a doctor and the other a lawyer, they might not award any spousal support since both individuals were making a good living.

The courts will look at what each person can pay. If neither spouse can really afford to support the other, it might be unrealistic to award spousal support payments. They will also look at whether having a job would make it too difficult to care for the couple’s children. For example, if the couple has an infant and four other small children, it might be too difficult for the wife to enter the workforce at that point in time. She might have to wait until the youngest child enters grammar school or later.

The judge will also consider the age and health of both spouses. If one of them is suffering from a debilitating disease, the judge might be more inclined to award support to that person if their ex can afford it.

In the situation where one spouse or partner supported the other through college, career training or while pursuing a professional license, the judge will take that into consideration. For example, perhaps the now stay-at-home wife and mother, supported her husband while he went to law school before she had children – and now that she’s been out of the workforce for so long, she’s at the economic disadvantage, while he is now enjoying the benefits of her paying for his higher education, or supporting him through it. Now that he’s a successful attorney, a judge might consider that he owes it to his wife.

The courts will also consider debts and property and whether one spouse’s career was affected by years of unemployment by taking care of the home or children. Furthermore, the judge will factor in each spouse’s unique hardships that they are presently facing.

An important issue regarding awarding spousal support is that of domestic violence. The courts will evaluate all documented evidence of any history of domestic violence between both parties. The history of domestic violence and the emotional distress it caused will be a factor in awarding support, no matter whether the victim was the supported party or the supporting party.

The courts will also consider the immediate tax consequences for both parties and whether or not, either spouse has any prior criminal convictions. For example, the criminal conviction of an abusive spouse would be considering when making either a reduction or an elimination of spousal support.

The amount of spousal support and the duration are at the sole discretion of the courts. If you are seeking to obtain spousal support or if you wish to contest a request for spousal support, you should speak to an experienced and compassionate family attorney who can help you with this very important matter. The entire outcome of your divorce could be hinging on whether or not support is awarded, therefore, it would be in your best interests to have an attorney by your side, protecting your legal rights and handling all other important issues relating to your divorce.

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