Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is often a very emotional subject for both parties. When a marriage ends, partners sometimes have a difficult time understanding why they have to support their former spouse, or why their former spouse is not required to support them at a higher level. Very often the stresses associated with the loss of their marital relationship limits their ability to appreciate the nuances found in California law on this subject.

The factors used to determine the amount of spousal support varies depending upon whether the issue is heard before or after entry of a judgment of dissolution. Prior to judgment, a computer program is used to determine what is called temporary (or pendente lite) support. The goal of this support is to maintain, during the pendency of the dissolution process, the marital status quo consistent with the parties’ respective earning capacities. Like child support, a number of factors are considered and entered into the computer software to determine the amount of temporary spousal support. These factors include the parties’ respective incomes, the number and timeshare of minor children, tax filing status, respective tax deductions, and a host of other factors.

In order to determine post judgment spousal support, a Court does not use the computer program. Rather, it is required to consider a range of factors that include the totality of the parties’ circumstances. Some of the considerations include the parties’ earnings, the presence or care of minor children, the amount of time and reasons behind one spouse being out of the workforce during the marriage, and any incidences of domestic violence. A judge is given wide discretion to set spousal support after considering all these factors.

In cases involving marriages of 10 years or more in which one spouse has not worked, the Court will typically order spousal support. In cases involving shorter marriages, spousal support may be permanent or temporary, and sometimes it will not be necessary at all. Court-mandated spousal support, like child support, can be modified due to a significant change in circumstances. But unlike child support, parties can agree to make the amount or length of spousal support non-modifiable.

Once a judgment has been entered and spousal support set, a change of circumstances is required to modify the spousal support order. Such changes could include the loss of a job, a new marriage, or a new child, among other things.

It is important that you find the right attorney, with the necessary experience, to help you navigate the issues surrounding spousal support orders. Daniel Geraldi listens to your concerns, answer your questions, explains California law as it applies to your situation, and works to achieve your goals regarding spousal support. He has represented clients in divorce and support matters for many years.

If you have further questions about spousal support, contact Daniel Geraldi at (925) 364-4741.