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Understanding State Spousal Support Guidelines

Understanding your rights and obligations with respect to spousal support is very important before commencing the marriage dissolution process. Learning the importance behind why support is offered, for what duration the support will be paid, and the amount that needs to be provided will help you ascertain what is expected. The following is an outline of the most necessary information regarding spousal support in California.

Defining Spousal Support in the State of California

Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is the legal term used when one spouse needs to make payments to the other spouse when their divorce has been finalized. Spousal support is generally broken into two categories:

  • Temporary spousal support – This type of support is court ordered when the divorce is still pending. Temporary spousal support does not generally expire and there is no set duration for support.
  • Permanent spousal support – Also known as post-divorce judgement, this type of divorce is based on multiple factors that range from the duration of the marriage to the couple’s standard of living.

The General Purpose of Spousal Support

The purpose of spousal support is to bridge the gap between the time that it takes for the supported party to obtain employment and having sufficient resources that meet the living standards held in the duration of the marriage.

Temporary support in California is meant to maintain the standard of living of both spouses until a permanent support is established, in addition to the final division of debts and assets.

Permanent support will provide the party with insufficient income for their basic needs. Moreover, it will help this party ensure that his or her lifestyle remains consistent following the marriage dissolution.

How Long Should Spousal Support Be Provided?

The duration of spousal support will be based on the reasonable transition time period between the married life to the self-sufficient and single life. Self-supporting also typically applies to short term marriages. For a majority of cases, the duration of support will depend in part on the duration of the marriage. When the marriage lasts less than a decade, the spousal support duration is generally expected to equal half of the time. For instance, when the couple was married for 8 years, the length of support is presumed to be 4 years. Again, this will depend on the length and other factors. A marriage of one year is less likely to see a spousal support award than one that was 9 years.

When marriage lasts for more than a decade, the spouse that has earned less income will receive monetary support for as long as it is needed and until the other party is able to make payments. Here, there is no automatic spousal support termination date. When it comes to permanent spousal support, the court order amount can be reduced, or stepped-down from when there has been a change in the financial status of either party. Here, the record must provide evidence for the step down.

Obtain the Legal Support of a Qualified Family Law Attorney

The amount of spousal support and the duration of support is dependent on many different factors. Under California policy, both parties are responsible for becoming self-supporting under a reasonable time, however this primarily applies to marriages that have lasted 10 years or less. When it comes to long-term marriages, other options may be available, one of which involves step-down amounts. Ultimately, California family courts are responsible for establishing spousal support on each individual case. If you or someone you know is facing divorce and believes spousal support may be required, it is critical to consider seeking the legal support of a knowledgeable family law attorney.

The family law attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP are proficient in marriage dissolution cases involving spousal support. The firm is committed to vigorously defending the rights and interests of their clients. Consult the attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP for a free case evaluation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.