Alimony and Spousal Support
The Role of Alimony and Spousal Support in Divorce
The laws that apply to alimony and spousal support are common in divorce and partnership dissolution cases in California. Lower earning spouses, such as those who work part-time or those who stay at home, rely on getting this type of financial assistance from the higher wage earning spouse. More often than not, finding the right solution for both parties involved is extremely challenging and can be the foundation for heated debate.
Compromise or Court Battle
The amount of the monthly alimony / spousal support payments after a legal separation is decided in one of two ways:
- It is either agreed between the spouses;
- The courts order it as a part of the settlement.
The process can be very costly unless the spouses can come to an agreement for the amount and duration of these support payments outside the courtroom. Otherwise, the spouses have to proceed with their attorneys and reach a settlement in a courtroom.
Alimony / Spousal Support Factors Taken into Consideration
Before the court orders the amount and duration of alimony / spousal support payments, they will take several factors into consideration including:
- Age of the spouses along with their financial and physical condition
- Duration of the marriage
- Earning abilities of each spouse
- Paying spouse’s ability to support themselves
- Standard of living while they were married
The interpretation of the last factor above is based on the standard of living that the lower or non-earning spouse was accustomed to during the marriage. For instance, if they enjoyed an exceptionally high standard of living, the paying spouse may be ordered to make higher monthly support payments. The settled amount will differ from case to case, but it’s always in your best interest to have an experienced divorce attorney in your corner who will fight for every dollar you deserve.
The Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support
The terms “alimony” and “spousal support” are often used interchangeably. Alimony is the older term for spousal support. It has been used for a long time and has been phased out with the more modern term “spousal support.” Since “spouse” is gender neutral, the modern usage “spousal support” just clarifies what the payments are for.
These payments are paid by one spouse to another and can be awarded to either spouse, although people sometimes wrongly assume that the support is only awarded to the wife. The purpose is to correct the disparity in earnings that will result from the divorce. In some cases, the court takes into consideration factors such as the spouse’s financial contributions to the home or the other spouse’s career & education. If there are children involved, this adds another level of complexity and is another reason a legal representation is necessary.
There are significant differences between alimony and temporary spousal support including:
Alimony pendente lite are payments paid to a spouse during the pendency of a divorce proceeding. Temporary spousal support, on the other hand, can be awarded prior to the filing of the divorce such as during legal separation. The same formula that is used to calculate the amount of alimony to be paid is also used to determine the amount of temporary spousal support payments. The amount that is awarded is usually influenced by individual circumstances.
The alimony / spousal support issue is one of the more complex areas of divorce. Strong Family Law can help you navigate through the process and ensure your rights are protected throughout the ordeal. For more information regarding this issue or any other, we encourage you to contact our law firm today. We’ll be glad to schedule an appointment with our experienced lawyers.