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California Spousal Support Basics

If you’ve just started researching California spousal support basics (or, if you need a refresher), this article will get you started in the right direction.  However, if you need specific advice about your individual situation, it’s likely in your best interests to consult with a qualified family law attorney.  In the meantime, it will help you to know…

Spousal Support is NOT Automatic

In California, spousal support is not automatic.  If you need it, you must ask for it.

After you file your petition for dissolution (initial divorce papers), file your request for temporary spousal support immediately.  If you don’t, you may miss out on several months of payments.

In addition, when you consult with your family law attorney, be sure to let him or her know if you want to explore permanent spousal support.

There are Two Kinds of Spousal Support:  Temporary and Permanent

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce proceeds from the spouse who earns more money to the one who earns less

  • Because other factors such as assets are not considered, temporary and permanent spousal support amounts can very widely.
  • The goal of temporary spousal support is to maintain the lower income spouse’s standard of living until a marital agreement or court decision has been reached.

Permanent Spousal Support

Permanent Spousal Support starts when the divorce or dissolution is finalized and continues for as long as the marital agreement provides or the judge orders.

The goal of Permanent Spousal Support is to allow the supported spouse to maintain a lifestyle commiserate with the “marital standard of living.”

How Long Permanent Spousal Support Lasts

  • If the marriage lasted 10 years or less, spousal support is typically granted for ½ of the number of years married.  For example, if the couple was married for 8 years, spousal support is usually granted for 4 years.
  •  If the marriage lasted 10 years or more, spousal support can be granted for any length of time with the goal that the individual become self-supporting in a reasonable period of time.

Please note that the judge does have discretion and usually considers the length of the marriage as well as each spouse’s income, education, and ability to get back on his or her feet.

You Don’t Have to Go to Court to Get Spousal Support

In California, there is no court requirement.  In fact, if you or your spouse does ask the court for help, you both lose total control over your future and finances.

  • Though most folks do so through their family law attorneys, you are permitted to work out your own marital settlement agreement, detailing how property settlement, spousal support, child support, and timesharing will be handled.
  • If you come to your own agreement, you stay in control; if you ask the court for help your agreement will not be personalized to your individual financial situation. The judge will issue an order based on California guidelines and formulas. You will have no control.

If you would like to consult with a highly qualified family law attorney and find out how spousal support would work in your individual situation, you are welcome to contact us at info@heathnewton.com or call 415.398.1290.  We look forward to hearing from you.

California Guide to Child and Spousal Support eBook Download

Categories: Support

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