Knowing your rights and obligations is important, especially when it comes to spousal support. When deciding to divorce or legally separate, the court may order the spouse or domestic partner with a higher income to pay the other a set amount of support money every month based on the duration of the marriage or partnership, as well as other factors. This is called “spousal support” if married and “partner support” if in a domestic partnership. It is also commonly known as “alimony.”
How Do I Request Spousal Support?
A party can ask for spousal or partner support as part of their case in a dissolution or legal separation proceeding. As with many things in family law, the parties can reach an agreement as to an amount, which can be signed by the court as an order. In the absence of an agreement, a party will have to file a request for order seeking at a minimum, temporary support or permanent support, the latter of which may be decided at trial.
How Is The Amount Of Support Decided?
Like child support, a family court calculation for support will be based upon the income of the parties. It is important to note that different legal standards apply to what sources of money are available to calculate child support and to calculate spousal support. It is also important to note that depending on whether a party is paying attorney's fees or whether a party is paying child support can affect spousal support calculations. Separately, there are different legal standards for the type of spousal support sought.
Temporary support is available for parties of short-term marriages and long-term marriages on an immediate need-based basis. But, when a party is seeking to establish permanent support at trial, courts are guided by the Family Code Section 4320 factors, which consider a range of circumstances, including but not limited to the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the financial circumstances of the marital community, allegations of domestic violence or domestic violence restraining orders, as well as the respective earning capacities of the parties in both the short and long term. Generally, when a party seeks spousal support, there is a complicated interplay between the length of the marriage and the factors present under the law that require careful consideration by an experienced attorney, to either obtain the maximum amount under the law or ensure that one is not overpaying.
Modification Of Support
Like child support, spousal support can be modified if a change of circumstances exists. Unlike child support, spousal support can also be modified if a party is not meeting the standard of the state to become self-supporting and has received a verbal or written warning from a family court. Under certain circumstances, support can be modified even on a permanent order through what is known as a “step down” plan. In such cases where modifications are sought, it is important to apply the legal standards correctly to either ensure payment occurs and is not modified or is modified based on the noncompliance or other issues surrounding the other party.
At Sunnen Law, we handle all aspects of spousal support cases, including:
- Establishing temporary support orders
- Modifications of pre- or post-judgment support orders
- Enforcement of support orders and arrearage amounts
- Litigation before trial or at trial
- Post-judgment support modifications
- Gavron Warnings
- Richmond Orders
Get Legal Advice About Spousal Support Today!
You need to know what you will be paying or what you will be receiving. The goal of our firm is to make sure that you are dealt with fairly, regardless of which side of the spousal support equation you are on. Call us at 619-255-9551 or email us to request an in-person consultation as soon as possible.