Spousal Support Attorney Referral Service

What is Spousal Support?

When a couple separates or divorces, one of the former spouses may be ordered to pay the other spouse an amount of support money each month. This money is called ‘spousal support’ or ‘alimony’. Spousal support is also available in domestic partnerships, but it is referred to as ‘partner support’.

Spousal or partner support cannot be awarded unless there is a court case. This means that the spouse or domestic partner must ask a family court judge to make a spousal or partner support order. The types of cases where this order can be made are:

  • Divorce
  • Legal separation
  • Annulment
  • Domestic violence restraining order

The support can be paid while the case is still being sorted out. This is called temporary spousal support. Once a divorce, separation, or annulment has become final, the support can continue. At this point, it is called permanent or long-term spousal or partner support.

Support does not always have to be determined by a family court judge. In some cases, the spouses or partners are able to agree on a monthly amount to be put in the order. This is called a stipulation. Stipulation involves the following:

  • Consulting with a family law facilitator
  • Decide on a support amount and the amount of time it will be paid
  • Decide other issues, such as ones dealing with marital property, division of debts, child support, child custody, and child visitation
  • Write the agreement with the help of a facilitator or an attorney
  • Sign the agreement
  • Submit the agreement to a family court judge for the judge to sign
  • File the agreement with the court clerk after the judge has signed it

While agreeing on an amount, and stipulating to that amount, is the least costly and time-consuming way of obtaining spousal or partner support, this is not always possible. Some couples may have to ask a judge to make his or her own decision about the amount that will be awarded and how it will be paid.

To make this decision, the judge follows the guidelines set forth under California law.

How is spousal support determined in the state of California?

If alimony is temporary, judges will use a formula to calculate the support amount. This formula can differ by county, so it is best to consult with an attorney to determine what your possible support amount is.

If support is permanent or long-term, the judge will consider factors set forth in the California Family Code. These factors include:

  • Length of the marriage or domestic partnership;
  • The needs of each person based on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
  • What each person can pay or does pay to keep the standard of living they had during the marriage;
  • The age and health of both spouses;
  • Whether having a job would impeded a parent’s ability to take care of any children;
  • Any debts;
  • Any property;
  • Whether one of the spouses helped the other obtain education, job training, career training, or a professional license;
  • If there was any domestic violence;
  • Whether one of the spouses was ever unemployed or had their career affected by taking care of children;
  • The tax impact of the spousal support.

What would be the benefit for hiring a spousal support attorney?

Spousal support is a difficult legal issue, even if the parting between the couple is without hostility. To calculate spousal support, a specific formula must be used if it is temporary, or specific factors must be considered if it is long-term or permanent.

A spousal support attorney is well-versed in California family law and will be able to adequately counsel you on the information you need to provide so that an accurate support order can be drawn up. Your lawyer will also be able to aggressively advocate for you, and your particular position, if the divorce or separation proceedings are contentious.

Securing an attorney will ensure that you receive a fair and adequate support order. Additionally, if you are the one paying support, he or she will ensure that you are not paying more than you should be under the law.

Finally, if your former spouse has failed to make payments in accordance with the order, your attorney can help you take the right steps to enforce the order and begin receiving payments again.

Contact us at 818-340-4529, we will help you find the right attorney for your case.