Spousal support (also referred to as alimony) is the court-ordered amount of money paid from one spouse to the other. The main purpose of spousal support is to assist the lesser-earning spouse to continue to enjoy a similar standard of living after the marriage ends.
There are two types of spousal support: temporary and long-term. Temporary support is used to maintain a spouse’s standard of living while the divorce is still pending or until a final agreement is reached or a final judgment is entered. In many cases, temporary support lasts for approximately six (6) months. In contrast, long-term support (or permanent support, as it is sometimes called), can be ordered to take effect after final judgment is issued in a case, and it can last for many years after the case is conclusively resolved.
HOW IS TEMPORARY SPOUSAL SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Temporary spousal support is determined by special program that accounts for the parties’ respective incomes and tax deductions under state guidelines.
DOES SPOUSAL SUPPORT START AUTOMATICALLY WHEN A CASE IS FILED?
No. Spousal support must be either expressly requested and ordered by the Court or agreed upon between the parties in writing to take effect.
HOW IS LONG-TERM SPOUSAL SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Unlike for temporary spousal support, the Court must consider many more factors when it comes to determining long-term spousal support. The factors include the following:
- Supporting party’s ability to pay;
- Assets and obligations of each party;
- The length of the marriage;
- Recipient’s ability to be gainfully employed;
- Age and health of the parties;
- Documented evidence of domestic violence (if any);
- Certain tax consequences;
- Balance of hardships; and
- Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.
The Court will weigh out all of the relevant factors and determine the amount of long-term spousal support (if any) that is due under the circumstances.
HOW LONG DOES SPOUSAL SUPPORT LAST?
The length of spousal support will depend on the circumstances of your case. In some cases, spousal support ends rather quickly, either because of an agreement between the parties or because of changed financial circumstances (e.g. income changes, remarriage, etc.). Other cases can involve enduring spousal support commitments. This can also be because of an agreement between the parties or because of a court order that accounts for certain factors in that case.
One of the main factors that courts in California will consider in relation to the length of spousal support in the case is the length of the marriage. Generally speaking, in a marriage of short duration—which generally means that the marriage lasted less than 10 years—parties are expected by the Court to become completely self-sufficient (i.e. spousal support ends) within half the length of the marriage. Conversely, for long-term marriages or marriages over 10 years in duration, there is no similar expectation. In other words, absent an agreement between the parties to the contrary, spousal support in a long-term marriage can endure for many years.
Both temporary and long-term spousal support may be modified if circumstances significantly change for the support payor or the recipient.
At The Kurta Law Firm, we are experienced with all aspects of spousal support, including the negotiation and preparation of agreements, litigation, and modification. Whether you would like to speak with us about certain aspects of spousal support or you would like to get assistance from a seasoned attorney to make sure that your spousal support issue is skillfully resolved, we are ready to help. Give us a call at (925)-385-8586 to set a consultation with an experienced attorney.