Modifying Spousal Support Based On Ability To Pay
Post-separation income increases for the supporting spouse may NOT be considered by the court as a basis for modifying support. Therefore, a raise in income is not to be considered if a modification request is made. The court will look to the standard of living established during the marriage. In addition, any income of the supporting spouses subsequent spouse or non-marital partner is not to be considered.
Is Alimony Mandatory In California
In California, alimony is not mandatory. However, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the court may order them to pay alimony to the lower-earning spouse. Other factors that could influence a courts decision include:
While alimony is not mandatory in California, the court will often order payments based on a number of these factors. Therefore, if youre trying to avoid paying alimony, its essential to be aware of these factors and consider them when making your case.
Choose Whether Spouse Is Responsible For Own Expenses
Third, you must choose whether each spouse is primarily responsible for their own living expenses. Choose from one of the two available options.
If a spouse is primarily responsible for their own living expenses, then the spouse is entitled to take a personal exemption for California income tax purposes, and the California Maintenance Calculator reduces the spouses overall California income tax liability after California income tax has been calculated. The amount of the California personal exemption credit is $114.00.
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Factors For Modification Of Spousal Support
The court will consider various factors when evaluating modification requests, such as the ability of the supported spouse to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children in their custody or the age and health of each spouse. The court may also consider other factors that it deems just and equitable, which may include remarriage, cohabitation, and retirement.
The Court Sometimes Uses A Computer Program To Determine Temporary Alimony
The key word there is temporary alimony. There is a big difference between temporary alimony and the final alimony amount. Even the word final alimony you should take with a grain of salt because alimony is usually modifiable after a divorce judgment.
Neither an alimony calculator nor the computer program courts and lawyers rely on helps very much for the alimony at the judgment phase.
That alimony number is no longer the temporary number or even the post-judgment number. That is because California law generally forbids the judge to rely on any computer program to determine any alimony number except for the temporary number. In other words, it is really only good for the temporary number and not much else.
Some lawyers still use the computer program when determining what the final alimony number should be. Is that wise? It depends.
If done by an experienced family law attorney who knows what they are doing, then it may provide a range of potential numbers. But that takes some program tweaking and something I have not yet seen an online California alimony calculator be able to do.
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How Is Temporary Alimony Calculated In California
When considering whether a spouse needs temporary alimony, California courts have found that the amount of support should be based on what’s necessary to maintain the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during their marriage.
Of course, it’s more expensive to maintain two households than a shared one. So in many cases, both spouses won’t be able to keep up their previous living standard. But the idea behind temporary alimony is to maintain the status quoas much as possibleuntil the divorce is final.
The courts in many California counties use a formula as a guideline for calculating the amount of temporary spousal support. These guidelines vary, but one common formula for the monthly amount of support is 40% of the high earner’s net monthly income minus 50% of the low earner’s net monthly income. For example, if Spouse A earns $6,000 a month and Spouse B earns $3,000 a month, temporary spousal support would be $900 a month .
Even in courts that use a temporary alimony guideline, the judge may award a different amount of support based on the specific circumstances.
California Alimony And Spousal Support
Learn more about California alimony laws and how courts determine spousal support.
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Alimony is officially known as spousal support in California. The award of support is not automatic in a divorce, but it is often awarded to assist a spouse with lesser resources to maintain a standard of living close to what they enjoyed during the marriage.
Here are several other things you should know if youre going through a divorce, and alimony is one of the issues youll need to resolve.
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Who Pays Spousal Support In Ca
In California, the spousal support burden will be on the party who pays to prove that spousal support is not necessary at some point in the future. The court is the one who will decide how long a spouse is expected to pay spousal support by following certain general equitable principles and guidelines.
What Is The Average Amount Of Alimony In California
In general, the rule subtracts 35 per cent to 40% of the higher-earning spouses income and 40 per cent to 50% of the lower-earning spouses income. And the percentage that is applied to each of your earnings differs by county.
If a judge grants temporary assistance, it will usually be granted from the moment it is requested until the divorce is finalized.
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What Is The 10
The court will consider some general equitable principles and guidelines set forth in case histories. For marriages of less than 10 years in California, the statute provides a presumption that it should be granted for half the length of the marriage.
In California, including local courts in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Hemet, the law provides that if permanent spousal support is established at the time of trial, the court is not to set a future termination date if the marriage is of lengthy duration. Any marriage of 10 years is considered lengthy. Recently, courts have ruled that spousal support is only provided during the transition period from married to single life. While circumstances vary from person-to-person, the courts do not favor lifetime support.
Factors Affecting Alimony In California
Theres no guarantee a California family court will order a spouse to pay alimony to their ex after a divorce.
Factors influencing the courts decision include the following:
- Earning capacity and marketable skills of each spouse
- Whether the earning capacity of a spouse will be limited due to periods of unemployment because the spouse was performing domestic duties
- Whether the party seeking alimony payments supported their spouses pursuit of their career goals
- The needs of both spouses as established by the standard of living during their marriage
- Whether the party seeking alimony can secure gainful employment without interfering with their childrens lives and best interests
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of both spouses
- Documented evidence of domestic violence
Accounting for all these factors can be a complex process. A family courts goal is to establish an alimony arrangement that is best for both parties. However, courts can make mistakes.
You have a better chance of negotiating an arrangement that satisfies your needs and preferences with the help of a qualified family law attorney.
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What Are The Penalties To Missed Alimony Payments
If you fail to make court-ordered spousal support payments on time, you will be charged interest at 10% per year on the outstanding balance. The addition of interest charges is mandated by law and cannot be stopped by a judge.
You may be found in contempt of court if you intentionally refuse to pay your ex-spouse spousal support while having the financial resources to do so. Even though jail time is typically viewed as a last-resort enforcement measure, this could result in it.
If the person owing spousal support also owes child support due to the divorce settlement, the local child support agency may become engaged in collecting spousal support.
How Is Alimony Calculated In California
Courts in various California counties use slightly different factors when calculating temporary alimony. Note that the rules in your local court will explain how temporary alimony is calculated in your county. For instance, the superior courts of Solano County in California have approved a spousal support calculation known as the “Santa Clara Guideline” for use in temporary alimony. Alameda and Contra Costa county governments have adopted the “Alameda Guideline” formula. The guideline suggests that spousal support be approximately 40% of the paying party’s net monthly income, minus half of the receiving party’s net monthly income. For instance, if the party paying alimony earns $10,000 monthly, and the dependent spouse earns $5,000 monthly, the spousal support granted is likely to be about $1,500 per month. Note that if the party paying alimony also pays child support, alimony is computed after child support is determined.
Determining California’s permanent spousal support or alimony does not follow any standard guidelines. In deciding the amount to be paid for permanent alimony, the court will assess the case based on the factors stated in Section 4320 of the stateâs Family Code.
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Contact Our Experienced Los Angeles Firm
Divorce and family law issues are notoriously complicated and personal, which is why you must hire an attorney with years of experience, as well as the compassion and skill needed to handle these sensitive matters. For the qualified, dedicated legal representation you and your family deserve and need, contact Zitser Family Law Group, APC today.
When Do You Start Paying Alimony
If alimony is ordered by the court, payments will begin once your divorce is finalized and you have been issued your decree. Alimony payments will usually continue until one of the following events occur:
- One of the spouses passes away
- The dependent spouse remarries
- The court makes a further ruling or
- A specific end date arrives, as specified in your judgment.
Both spouses have the power to make alimony payments stop at any time. But once a judge has ordered alimony, a motion must be made to the court for a modification or to terminate payments. In addition, spouses may sometimes agree to a zero alimony order also known as a reserved alimony order. This means that neither spouse wishes to receive alimony payments at the time of the divorce but reserves the right to request it in the future. This situation commonly arises when both spouses make approximately the same income, and neither spouse has the ability to pay alimony.
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Understanding How Support Is Calculated Can Be Difficult
California law requires courts to adhere to statewide, uniform guidelines in setting child support orders, but one thing that is commonly misunderstood is that while child support calculators use a specific formula, they are only as correct as the information entered into them. Unlike child support, where there is a standard formula, there is no set formula the court uses for spousal support, which is why spousal support tends to be one of the biggest sources of contention and conflict during a divorce. As divorce mediators, we can help you and your spouse better understand all of the factors that impact how child or spousal support is calculated and calculate it for you. We know there are many intense emotions involved in this process, and we will always ensure that both of you are comfortable with your agreement.
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You Can Ask To Change Support If Your Financial Situation Changed
If your financial situation changed since the judge last made a spousal support order, you can ask for a judge to change the amount of support you pay or even to end support.
Find out more about how to ask the judge to change the amount of temporary or long-term spousal support you pay. Temporary spousal support is support paid before your divorce is final. Long-term spousal support is support yo pay after your divorce is final .
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Factors For Determining Long
California doesn’t use a “calculator” for determining the amount of long-term spousal support. Instead, judges must decide how much to award after they’ve considered all of the following circumstances:
- each spouse’s needs, based on the standard of living they had during the marriage
- each spouse’s ability to earn enough to maintain that standard of living, taking into account their marketable skills, the job market for those skills, how much time and training the supported spouse would need to develop those skills, and how much that spouse’s earning capacity was reduced because of time taken out of the job market to care for the children and home during the marriage
- the supporting spouse’s ability to pay alimony
- the goal that the alimony recipient should become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time
- the supported spouse’s ability to be gainfully employed without unduly interfering with the interests of children in that spouse’s physical custody
- each spouse’s age and health
- each spouse’s debts and assets, including their separate property
- how long the marriage lasted
- how much the supported spouse contributed to the other’s educational degree or professional license during the marriage
- whether there’s documented history of domestic violence against either party or the children
- the tax consequences of spousal support
- the balance of hardships to each spouse, and
- any other factors the judge believes should be considered, based on what’s fair.
When Can Spousal Support Be Terminated In California
When spouses cannot come to a private alimony agreement, which would include the duration of payment, the determination may be made by a California Family Court Judge.
Common ways alimony is terminated may include:
- The death of either spouse.
- The spouse who receives alimony payments gets remarried.
- A court order includes specific date for when the spousal support payments end.
Since the terms of each divorce vary, it is important to partner with a skilled spousal support lawyer in Los Angeles who will put your best monetary interests first. We can help, starting with a free initial consultation.
Can a Spousal Support Agreement Be Modified in California?The legally binding terms of a spousal support agreement may be adjusted based on the earning ability of the paying spouse or the needs of the receiving spouse.
Common reasons one spouse would request a modification hearing include a change in income due to unemployment, suffering an injury, or retirement, or the recipients qualifying needs.
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When Does Alimony End In California
The truth is, the answer to this question is different for each marriage. Typically, courts in California do not favor a permanent alimony arrangement, and instead, tend to see alimony as a tool to help the financially dependent spouse move on with their lives and eventually become financially independent. That being said, for couples who have been married for more than 10 years, courts in California will seldom set an end date for alimony. That said, just because there is no predetermined end date doesnt mean alimony cant be terminated. There are various circumstances that may warrant the termination of an alimony agreement. For example, when the spouse receiving alimony gets remarried, finds a higher paying job, or comes into a significant sum of money, thereby becoming financially independent, the payor may argue the payee no longer requires alimony. Additionally, if you are paying alimony and you can prove that your former spouse isnt even trying to get a job or is working minimal hours on purpose , you may be entitled to a modification, or potential termination, of your alimony agreement.
If you have any additional questions or you would like to get started, simply pick up the phone and give us a call today.
How Do California Courts Determine Alimony Agreements
As you may know, when it comes to deciding on an alimony agreement for divorcing spouses, courts will first analyze various aspects of your marriage and financial situation. Just some of the most important factors include the duration of your marriage, both spouses incomes, both spouses earning capacity, both spouses education, tax implications, both spouses age and health, and the standard of living established in the marriage. Additionally, if you and your spouse have children together, they will consider any child support or child custody agreements in place as well.
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How Is The Duration Of Alimony Determined
Spousal support is ordered with the goal of the spouse being able to obtain support in order to care for themselves within a reasonable amount of time. The court has the discretion to decide what the duration of spousal support is. Typically, the duration of a permanent or long-term spousal support order is dependent on the length of the marriage.
What Happens If I Dont Pay Spousal Support In California
An individual court-ordered to make alimony payments who fails to pay will be facing serious legal consequences. Failure to pay spousal support, or alimony, can lead to the person having their drivers license suspended they could also be held in contempt of court and ultimately end up paying more, among other things.
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