Spousal Support

Spousal Support attorney adjustments to spousal support agreements

Spousal Support Alimony Attorney

Spousal or Partner support is defined as payment to an ex-spouse after a divorce (and while a divorce is pending).

There are two kinds of spousal support:

  • Temporary
  • Post Judgment also known as Permanent Spousal Support

Understanding Spousal or Partner Support

Unlike child support, there is no set schedule or formula for Post Judgment spousal support levels in California. Also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, the amount of spousal support or alimony required (if any) depends on numerous factors, including the income of each spouse, their previous standard of living, the relative earning capacity of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and other financial considerations.

A skilled family law and spousal support attorney can often, through persuasive motions and arguments, make a difference in the amount of spousal support awarded by the court. At the Law Office of Ane Murphy, we have extensive experience in establishing levels of spousal support during divorce and in obtaining modifications to spousal support levels, when changes in circumstances occur after the divorce is final.

California law makes a distinction between short-term and long-term marriages in determining the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support.

In California a short-term marriage is one less than 10 years in duration. For marriages less than 10 years in duration, it is presumed that the supported spouse will be self-supporting within one-half the number of years of the marriage. However the court can order spousal support for less than that period of time or more than that period of time depending on the parties’ circumstances.

For a long-term marriages, which is defined as 10 years or more, the court generally has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and the longer the marriage, generally the prospect of continuing spousal support for many years to come.

So what does this mean? It means that spousal support for a short-term marriage is generally for a fixed period of time. For a marriage over 10 years in duration, it means that spousal support is not necessarily fixed and can be ongoing, and the longer the marriage, the more that spousal support could be permanent.

Temporary Spousal Support vs. Permanent Spousal Support

Temporary Spousal Support (also known as Pendite Lite spousal support) generally is spousal support awarded while a divorce is pending and not yet finalized. Such temporary spousal support is generally calculated using the Dissomaster support calculator, much like child support in California is determined.

Post Judgment is Permanent Spousal Support which is spousal support beyond the conclusion of a California divorce and is generally determined by the court at trial (or in mutual agreement). Such a determination is substantially more complicated than determining temporary spousal support. To determine the amount of long-term spousal support, the Court considers such factors as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the needs of the parties, the age, health, earning capacity and job histories of both parties involved. In fact, Family Code section 4320 states the specific factors that the Court has to consider, as follows:

  • The extent to which each party’s earning capacity is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The contributions of the supported party to the paying party’s education, training, career position, or professional license;
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support;
  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The obligations and asset, including separate property, of each party;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children;
  • The age and health of the parties;
  • Any history of domestic violence between the parties;
  • The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party;
  • The balance of the hardships to each party;
  • The goal that the supported party become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (usually one-half the length of the marriage);
  • Any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse;
  • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

In situations where neither party needs spousal support at the moment, the Court can reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support in the future if there were any change of circumstances, such as serious illness, disability, or loss of employment.

Spousal support is generally considered under State and Federal law to be tax-deductible to the spouse who is paying such support, and is reportable income to the spouse who receives such income.

Spousal Support Can Change Over Time

While the initial amount of monthly spousal support is outlined in the final divorce settlement, this does not mean that spousal support levels cannot change. And as with child support, when major changes such as a promotion, the loss of a job, or the remarriage of a former dependent spouse take place—the change in circumstances can require that modifications be made to the terms of support.

Whatever your situation, Ane Murphy can provide a thorough legal analysis and advise you whether your spousal support is set too high or too low. As part of this process, we work with accountants and use sophisticated software programs to analyze and establish accurate amounts of income for each spouse or domestic partner. If action is required, we will immediately begin working to obtain a modification to your spousal support terms.

Ane Murphy in Santa Clara County can get results. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.