FAMILY LAW ARTICLES
Spousal support, which is commonly called alimony, is a serious point of contention in many divorce cases. This issue is a frequent one, and it causes significant problems with finances and also with anger and resentment both during and after the divorce process.
There are two types of support, which are temporary and permanent. Here is what you need to know about the differences, along with what to expect in a divorce case where spousal support, or alimony is requested.
Temporary Spousal Support
Anyone requesting temporary support, or being asked to pay it, should know that it’s not something the court automatically awards. A motion has to be filed with a request for an order seeking support.
In California, a program called DissoMaster is used to calculate support (whether temporary or permanent). Temporary support is also sometimes called pendent support, because it’s awarded during a pending divorce case.
In other words, it’s not a permanent order of support upon the completion of a divorce, but a temporary order for one spouse to support or partially support the other until the full details of the divorce are finalized.
Most often, the temporary support is calculated on the income of the parties, along with any contributions one spouse is making for the other’s benefit, such as payments for health insurance premiums.
Because temporary support isn’t automatic, an order is needed to bring the issue before the court. At that point, the court can look at the facts of the pending case and make a determination whether to set an order for support on a temporary basis.
Permanent Spousal Support
In contrast to the temporary support that can be requested during a pending divorce, permanent support is designed to provide support as part of the final judgement in the case. There are several factors that are used to determine a fair amount of this support, and these factors are set forth in California Family Code 4320.
Some of the specific factors that are used to determine support include:
- The age of the parties
- The health of the parties
- The parties’ education
- The parties’ careers
- How long the marriage lasted
In California, a marriage of long duration is considered to be more than 10 years. That doesn’t mean support can’t be requested for a marriage of short duration, though, especially if there are extenuating circumstances.
Often, in a marriage of long duration, the spouse who is asked to pay support may push back on the issue. They may want to pay less per month, or they may want to stop paying after a set period of time. In those cases they may seek a vocational evaluation.
This evaluation looks at the spouse receiving the support, and assesses their ability to become self-supporting in the future. If they have a good education, for example, they may be more likely to self-support within a set time frame. That can be considered in the alimony award.
One important note is that common law marriages aren’t considered when it comes to alimony awards. If the parties have a shared child, though, it’s possible to seek support because of that relationship.
Do you need more information about spousal support? Are you planning or going through a divorce where this may be an issue? Reach out to us at Hartley Lamas Et Al. today, and let us answer your support questions, so you can make an informed decision about your case.