Spousal support, also known as alimony, is an amount that one spouse is ordered to pay another spouse in a divorce or separation. The law requires spouses to support one another, but the intention is that both spouses become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
Spousal support is to be maintained only as long as necessary. There are two types of spousal support: pendente lite (temporary), which is ordered during the divorce process and which is intended to maintain both parties' marital standard of living to the extent possible. The other type of spousal support is ordered at the time of trial or settlement and is intended to help the supported spouse bridge the gap financially until that spouse can become self-supporting. The duration and amount of support are determined by a number of factors. The attorneys at Rombro Law can help you figure out which type is most appropriate and can fight to ensure you receive it.
Types of Spousal Support in California
There are multiple types of spousal support in California, including:
- Short-Term: If the marriage was short-lived, the judge may order short-term support that lasts for a set period of time. Rehabilitative alimony, in particular, is a special type of short-term support that is designed to help the lower earner get the education and training they need to achieve financial independence.
- Permanent: You may be entitled to permanent alimony if the marriage lasted ten years or more and the judge determines that you likely will not re-enter the workforce.
- Reimbursement: If you sacrificed your career or educational prospects so your spouse could advance theirs, you could receive reimbursement alimony.
A spousal support order may have a definite ending date or it may be terminated upon the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving support. Our team can help you determine which type of support is most appropriate for your situation.
You have the freedom to negotiate alimony outside of court.
Negotiating Alimony Outside of Court
You do not necessarily need to have a judge decide on an alimony agreement for you and your spouse. You have the freedom to negotiate alimony outside of court. The benefit here is that both parties take the decision out of the hands of the court.
However, if you elect to go this route, it is important that you hire an alimony attorney. Our legal team knows which factors matter and can negotiate on your behalf to ensure the best agreement possible.
Factors the Courts Will Consider
If you do elect to have the courts determine your alimony agreement, there is no precise guideline or formula for calculating the amount. However, they will typically look at a variety of factors, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of the respective spouses
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Needs of each person
Sometimes, the needs of the children may prevent the parent with primary custody from working. Also, one spouse may have paid for the education of the other spouse or may have stayed home to raise the children. As a result, they may not be readily employable in the workforce.
How Alimony is Enforced in California
People may fall behind on alimony payments for many reasons. For some, it may be the result of unforeseen circumstances, such as losing their job or getting diagnosed with medical problems that keep them out of work. But for others, they may simply not want to pay alimony anymore. What can you do as a California resident if your spouse fails to pay alimony?
If you are not receiving alimony payments, try and figure out why before proceeding to legal action. Perhaps your spouse lost their job or has been injured and truly does not have the means to pay alimony. If that is the case, you might consider working out an agreement to temporarily reduce or suspend alimony until your spouse is back up on their feet.
If you are not receiving alimony payments, try and figure out why before proceeding to legal action
If, however, your spouse is simply withholding because they do not want to pay, you have the courts at your disposal. You will need to file legal paperwork with the court and ask the judge to order your spouse to make payments. If your spouse disobeys court orders and still refuses to pay, the court can take a few different courses of action:
- Contempt: If the court determines your spouse is willfully disobedient, they can find your spouse in contempt of court. First, your spouse will likely be ordered to make the overdue payment and perhaps pay a fine. If they still do not obey the order, they could face jail time.
- Income Withholding: To effectively remove your spouse from the equation, the court can mandate that their employer withhold the amount of alimony owed to you from his or her paycheck. That money will then be sent to you.
- Writ of Execution: You may be awarded a portion of your spouse’s bank account and other assets.
- Judgment and Interest: Your spouse could be issued a money judgment that awards you the amount of money owed plus interest. You might also be reimbursed for attorney fees.
Discuss Your Case with a Professional
Spousal support can be a complex legal issue and often includes tax implications for the payor and receiver. If you are concerned whether spousal support may be ordered in your case, how much it could be, how long it may last, and how it would affect your taxes, contact one of the attorneys at Rombro & Associates online or at (310) 545-1900 to schedule a consultation.
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