According to the California Family Code a married couple is in a “fiduciary” relationship, which is, they are duty bound to deal fairly with each other. Under the law, however, each of them may enter into a transaction respecting property with each other or any other person of their choosing just as though they were unmarried. [Read more…]
Divorce is bound to pull on your emotions and create difficulties that you may not quite be sure how to handle. One thing’s for sure, though; you don’t have to pay more spousal support than you legally need to. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to paying too much support for too long a period because the either have poor legal counsel or they don’t know their rights.
California state law is very clear on spousal support, within certain guidelines. In fact, the state uses a standard calculation to determine support payments. To help you assess your possible support payments, We provides an on-line Child & Spousal Support Calculator. This client resource is a powerful, proprietary tool to help you determine the money you might owe or be owed as a result of divorce.
Please be sure that you fill in all fields in each screen before moving on to the next. This provides the closest possible calculation. Here’s the process:
1. Enter Husband’s annual gross income
2. Select the Husband’s filing status
3. Enter Wife’s annual gross income
4. Select the Wife’s filing status
5. Your estimated spousal support result will be displayed on the screen, in both monthly and annual figures.
Here’s an example of what you might find. Let’s say, for sake of argument, the husband’s income is $100,000, the wife’s income is zero, and both choose “single” as their income tax filing status. In this scenario, the husband would likely pay $2,718 monthly or $32,618 annually in spousal support. If, however, both spouses were working and the wife earned $65,000 annually, then under similar circumstances the husband’s spousal support payment might be $395 monthly or $4,750 annually.
The spousal support calculator is a good estimated assessment of what you might pay or receive in alimony. However, this calculator is for estimation only. Although our testing has produced results consistent with the calculators that the courts use, and is based on use of the same mathematical formula, no guarantee is made regarding its accuracy nor will we accept any liability from your use of the program.
In addition, there are other circumstances that play into how much spousal support you must pay (or are allotted to receive), based on a list of circumstances. As such, while the formula used to determine support is the same in every California court, a skilled family law attorney will negotiate certain items with the other party to ensure a fair spousal support judgment is made. We are experts at this process and will fight to get you the best results possible within the legal system.
To be granted divorce in California you must fulfill certain “residency requirements.” You or your spouse must have resided in the state for a minimum of the previous six months. What’s more, you or your spouse is required to have lived in the country in which you are filing, for at least the previous three months.
While you or your spouse may claim reasons for the filing of divorce, in California you do not have to do this. You can reduce the stress of divorce by claiming, “irreconcilable differences.” In the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is that the marriage is ending; only that it end as quickly and painlessly as possible for all parties involved.
It’s natural for tensions to mount and emotions to fly during divorce proceedings. Oftentimes, no matter what the circumstances are, one or both of the spouses may feel that they are entitled to more assets or money, or that they should receive full custody of the children after the divorce. Don’t worry; it’s not their call.
Here are a few of the more common threats made by vindictive or scared spouses. Please know that all of them are “empty” and hold no bearing on how the divorce will unfold.
1. “I will tell the court what you are doing and you won’t get the kids”
Chances are, whatever they disclose will have no bearing on how well equipped you are to raise or take care of your child.
2. “You can’t take money from me”
California embraces community property law. With few exceptions, everything acquired during a marriage will be considered community property and will be divided equally between you and your spouse.
3. “I’d rather go to jail than give you a dime”
The state of California takes matters like child and spousal support very seriously. There are many tools enforced by the state to make this happen in a fair manner.
4. “You shouldn’t trust your attorney. Mine will represent you better and will save you money”
It is very important that you do not fall for your spouse’s trap when he or she asks you to consider hiring on their attorney. By offering to utilize the attorney that best fits their needs, they may be attempting to take control of the divorce and increase their chances for a favorable outcome.
5. “Because of what you have done, you will never see the kids again.”
The California courts will always have the children’s best interests in mind, which means they would like both parents to see their children on a frequent and continuing basis.
We are happy to provide you with the California Divorce Guide. It is a thorough explanation of the California divorce process, and puts to rest these and other empty threats, as well as offering tips on how to protect yourself prior to filing. It is your comprehensive resource on all aspects of the California divorce process.
One of the most common questions we get asked is whether spousal support must be paid forever. Many people had been married for decades and after divorce were made to pay significant monthly alimony or spousal support payments. We often hear stories of how previous legal counsel told them they would have to pay for years and perhaps even decades with no hope for termination or even reduction.
Well, we’re here to tell you this is not the case. California state law dictates that spousal support is not permanent! In fact, depending on circumstance it might only last a few years. In other cases, it can last for decades; but often the amount paid can be reduced significantly.
There are two important points here:
1) The paying spouse does not have to pay spousal support indefinitely.
2) The supported spouse is expected to become self-supporting.
The eventual termination of spousal support and the directive for the supported spouse to become self-supporting is known as the Gavron Warning. In most cases, at the time the supported spouse receives their permanent spousal support order, they are also issued the Gavron warning of not to rely on this support. It will end. This warning is given in the hope of compelling the spouse receiving support to look for employment or create their own income streams within a reasonable time.
The Gavron warning was set over twenty years ago In re Marriage of Gavron, 203 Cal. App. 3d 705, 711-712 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1988). In this case, the supported ex-wife was unemployed and did not have valuable job skills. However, after six years the paying spouse argued that she had time while he was supporting her to develop the skills necessary to support herself. In essence, the trial court granted the requested modification, holding the wife’s failure to become employed as a change in circumstance that shifted the burden to her to demonstrate her continued need for support. The statute now reads:
“When making an order for spousal support, the court may advise the recipient of support that he or she should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court pursuant to [Family Code] section 4320, unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in [Family Code] section 4336, the court decides this warning is inadvisable.”
Here’s the rule: For marriages of less than 10 years the supported spouse must become self-supporting within half the time of the marriage duration. In other words, if you were married eight years, spousal support would only last for four years. Moreover, Family Code section 4320 (and several appellate cases) emphasize that even in marriages of greater than 10 years the supported spouse has a duty to become self-supporting as soon as reasonably possible. Cohabitation may also be the basis for seeking a decreased spousal support award.
Divorce is life changing. There’s loss of family, heartache and separation of equity and marital assets. What you’ve been building and creating over your adult life in a moment can get torn to shreds. And when it comes to trying to reassemble your life, you may be faced with paying years—perhaps decades—of spousal support.
How much and for how long? This is the main question we get asked when it comes to spousal support. Also known as “alimony” and “maintenance,” spousal support is a financial obligation many would rather not face. But in California, it is mandated law. It is the obligation for one spouse to provide the other spouse with financial support upon marital separation.
While you can’t hide from paying alimony––and shouldn’t have to beg to receive what may rightfully be yours––you can “know the score” by gathering and utilizing the available resources and information. Informed decisions will afford you a fighting chance at making sure that spousal support levels are fairly determined. Determining spousal support is complicated when all of the factors involved are taken into account.
After legal separation, one spouse may seek financial support from another through a court petition that they or their legal council submits. This is called “interim” or “pendente lite” support and continues through the course of the divorce litigation process.
Once the marriage has been dissolved, either party may ask for what is termed “post-marital alimony.” The amount and terms of the support will be determined in court and varies depending on individual circumstances. Note that after the divorce decree is issued, the pre-divorce interim spousal support agreement is not necessarily continued. While continuance of the same agreement can be requested, sometimes the arguments for or against support amount may be different. While the courts are not in favor of changing existing support orders unless extenuating circumstances can be proved and are compelling, it can happen with adequate documentation and argument.
California state law dictates that permanent spousal support is determined by carefully reviewing numerous factors. The court has tremendous discretion in setting alimony. If you are unable to settle or resolve this issue, then your attorney needs to develop detailed evidence about several factors, including:
• The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.
• The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
• The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
• The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
• The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
• The duration of the marriage.
• And many, many more factors…
Once spousal support has been established by the court it’s vital that the party responsible for payment do so on the required schedule. California state law has established requirements for payment, recovery and penalties for the payment and collection of spousal support. Allowing the payments to go into arrears will find the responsible party in “contempt of court” and may be fined and sent to jail.
Spousal support is often the largest financial obligation you will incur as part of a divorce. If you end up paying $1,500 per month over a 20 year period, that amounts to $360,000 in spousal support payments. Even reducing that amount by $500 per month saves you $120,000 over 20 years. If you are not proactive, spousal support can last decades and cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Don’t be a victim. Call now to schedule your spousal support consultation (877) 615-6620.
Recently, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, ruled that a 2002 provision of the California Family Code, which provides that premarital waivers of spousal support without independent counsel are unenforceable, could not be applied retroactively to agreements signed before the effective date of the statute. The court’s ruling was based on the fact that the statute does not merely clarify prior law, but substantially changes it.
In this case, the wife waived her right to spousal support knowingly and voluntarily, which was valid under the law at the time. The fact that she did this without the assistance of independent counsel is not enough to invalid the provision, since she was capable of understanding her husband’s financial disclosures, she knew her right to obtain her own independent counsel and she had ample time to obtain counsel. Furthermore, the agreement was not particularly complex, involved a small estate and her husband made full disclosure. To learn more about the ruling, a full document of the case decision is available online.
How the Ruling Affects Premarital Agreements
In light of this ruling, parties who executed premarital agreements that included a waiver of spousal support prior to the 2002 amendment to section 1612 taking effect should presume that the agreement is valid, even if the other party did not have independent counsel. This is presuming that the agreement and its components are not considered unconscionable.
Note that parties who execute premarital agreements that include a waiver of spousal support at this time need to ensure that both parties have independent counsel, as required by section 1612.
If you have any questions about the validity of an existing premarital agreement, or are interested in having a premarital agreement drafted or reviewed, contact us today to schedule a personal consultation. One of our expert attorneys will discuss your options with you and make sure that your interests are properly protected.
Besides the heavy emotional strain and stress that can be caused by a California divorce, one of the largest and most impactful issues that divorce may have on both parties-is alimony. Alimony, a term that is interchangeable with spousal support, is an agreed upon sum of money that the more fully financially established spouse pays to the other after the couple is divorced. It is a very serious issue that may end up being the largest financial obligation the supporting spouse may incur as part of the divorce. If not handled properly, alimony can last for decades and end up costing the supporting spouse hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What Factors Determine the Amount of Alimony?
While there isn’t a simple formula used to determine the amount of alimony that will be paid, there are some standard factors that are taken into consideration when coming to a conclusion on an end figure. For instance, the courts will look at:
- The salary of both spouses
- The earning potential of the supported spouse
- The effect finding employment will have on the upbringing of the children
- The age and health of both parties
- Other factors the court determines are just and equitable
Get an Idea of What the Spousal Support Payments will be
While neither the supported, nor the supporting spouse will be able to accurately predict the amount of support that will be paid or provided because of the above factors, our spousal support calculator is able to give a good estimation on what to expect. If children and child support will be involved in the divorce, the calculator can estimate child support payments or spousal support and child support as well.
Click here to go to the child and spousal support calculator
An Experienced Attorney Will Save the Supporting Spouse Money
It is a common misconception that all divorce scenarios involve alimony payments. In actuality, only about 10-15% of divorce cases involve spousal support. Because of the possibility of this being a major financial burden, it is extremely important to have an attorney that is equipped with knowledge and experience at handling cases that involve spousal support payments. Not having the right attorney could be detrimental to the case.
Spousal support, a phrase that is interchangeable with the term ‘alimony,’ is a monthly payment made from one spouse to the other after divorce. The purpose of spousal support/alimony is to ensure that the supported spouse may maintain the standard of living that they may have grown accustomed to during marriage. While tabloids and television may portray spousal support as a vengeful tool used by a spiteful spouse, its proper use is to help spouses entering the workforce after a lengthy period of time fulfill their living expenses until they attain a sustainable income. [Read more…]
If you are about to go through a divorce and are concerned about spousal support, also known as alimony-either paying or receiving-there are a few things that you should know. If you are looking for a full rundown of all the particulars and intricacies that go into deciding spousal support in California, our divorce guide is a great resource. In it you will find a very expansive section that discusses everything that you need to know about support. To give you a quick and easy breakdown of the spousal support guidelines, below you will find the most basic and necessary information. [Read more…]
One of the biggest areas of concern when going through a divorce is how much, and how long alimony will be awarded for. Alimony, also known as a spousal support award, is not a light decision. There are several factors that go into determining what the alimony payment will ultimately be when filing for divorce in California. [Read more…]