Alimony, Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance all refer to the same thing. It’s money that is paid by one ex-spouse to the other after their marriage has ended. Whether a marriage lasts for a short time or a long time, California is considered a community property state. All property and finances become one. At the end of the marriage, one spouse might lose a huge portion of their income. The goal of a spousal support agreement is to leave both spouses in a healthy and equal financial situation after their marriage has ended. Our spousal support attorneys are here to help you in two ways. We can either help you establish and create your spousal support agreement or modify your spousal support agreement.
How Is Spousal Support Calculated
Unlike child support, there’s no secret formula when calculating spousal support. There are several factors that are taken into consideration to determine the amount such as:
- length of marriage
- the income of the spouse receiving payments
- education and work history of the spouse receiving payments
- the paying spouse’s ability to pay
- what’s indicated in the prenuptial agreement
- if any of the spouses have remarried
- if the spouse receiving payments have contributed finances to the paying spouse such as education, training or professional developement
- age and health of both spouses
- how spousal support would affect both spouses taxes
There’s a common misconception that only men will have to pay spousal support to their soon to be ex-wives. This is false. All of the factors listed above go into determining who will be paying spousal support. If the wife is earning more money than her husband, then she will be making the payments to her soon to be ex-husband.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
The length of permanent spousal support depends on how long the marriage has lasted. In marriages less than 10 years, spousal support is granted for half the length of the marriage. For example, for a two-year marriage, spousal support is granted for one year; for a 3-year marriage; one and a half years and so on and so forth. For marriages that are over 10 years, the court will not decree when spousal support payments should be terminated. However, if the spouse that is receiving payments gets remarried, the spousal support will end.
In marriages that have lasted for over 10 years, most family court judges will, however, issue what is known as a “Gavron Warning”. It’s a warning from the judge that the spouse
receiving payments, that they should at least try to be self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time. Although there is no permanent end date for spousal support, it’s not meant to be a source of income for the spouse.
Note: The aforementioned above does refer temporary spousal support. Temporary spousal support is paid to the lesser earning spouse during the divorce proceedings. It is active to the date of the filing of the petition of marriage dissolution.
Modifying A Spousal Support Agreement
There are many reasons as to why a spousal support agreement may need to be modified such as a loss in income by the paying spouse or in the event that the paying spouse feels that the spouse that is receiving payments has become self-sufficient, they can request a modification or termination of the spousal support agreement. However, if during the creation of your spousal support agreement if both parties agreed to have the agreement be irrevocable, it will not be able to be modified in the future.
What Are Step Down Orders?
If you are worried about paying too much spousal support after a lengthy marriage, something called a step-down order can be included in your agreement. THe family law judge believes that the spouse receiving payments can or should be earning a specific amount of money through employment or other factors and will order an automatic reduction in spousal support payment periodically until the payment reaches zero.
Contact Our Spousal Support Attorneys
If you need help crafting your spousal support agreement, or need help modifying your agreement because you feel that you’ve been paying too much spousal support or been paying it for too long, then contact one of our spousal support attorneys. We will make sure after your divorce that you are put in the best possible financial situation so you can live the next chapter of your life.