San Diego Alimony Attorney

When two people get divorced, much of what occurs as the parties work towards a final dissolution is set out in the California statutes. As a community property state, most assets assigned to the marital estate are divided according to a relatively set equation. However, there are remedies to a divorce that are not always part of the final dissolution, and one of them is spousal support, which is commonly known as alimony.

Below are the considerations that judges are required to consider when one party moves for spousal support after a divorce. However, rather than attempt to convince the presiding judge to consider these factors in certain ways yourself, you need to put your best foot forward by securing the help of a San Diego spousal support attorney.

” I was previously in a long term marriage (of 18 years) with significant support obligations after the divorce was final. I had been paying support for 5 years when I learned the ex began cohabitating with her boyfriend. Obviously, I felt it was unfair for me to pay support payments to a person who was in a romantic relationship and was cohabitating with this same individual. However, to resolve my issue through the courts I needed a professional Team who understood the details of Family Code 4323 with respect to cohabitation. That is when I contacted the Scott Family Law Firm. When I retained the Scott Family Law Firm to take my case I didn’t realize I was getting the support of an entire Team not just an individual attorney. After reviewing the case with Mr. Scott he provided me with a road map on what needed to be done and what challenges we would encounter along the way to reduce or terminate the support obligation. As the case progressed it became evident Mr. Scott’s experience as a Certified Family Law Specialist was critical to building a convincing case. During the hearing Mr. Scott and Mr. Botros methodically orchestrated a technically savvy and persuasive presentation. The court’s ruling resulted in a step down schedule for the support obligation with an eventual zeroing out the obligation within 2 years of the filing. In closing, I cannot say enough about the professionalism and experience the Team at Scott Family Law Firm provided me. The best complement to this Team would be a referral and I would pleasantly do that to all of you reading this testimony.”

Thank You Again!

Rich R.

Statutory Considerations

California law puts forth 14 different factors that should be considered by a judge when the issue of spousal support is relevant to a case. These factors include:

  1. The ability to the marital standard of living in light of earning capacities – The law tacitly provides that one party to a divorce should not be forced to suffer in terms of lifestyle because of the divorce, and the ability to earn one’s own standard of living is considered.
  2. Contributions to the other spouse’s education, licensing, etc. – Many marriages begin where one spouse supports the other while he or she goes to school. This is taken into consideration if the parties seek a divorce.
  3. The supporting spouse’s ability to pay – Obviously, a court will not order spousal support if it puts the supporting spouse in a position of financial peril.
  4. Needs relative to the marital standard of living – Needs is a term that tends to make people think of food and shelter. However, needs can encompass more than those necessities in a divorce setting.
  5. Assets and debts of the parties – When a marital estate is divided, each party will likely walk away with certain assets and certain debts. Those are taken into consideration when deciding on a motion for spousal support.
  6. Duration of the marriage – Generally, the longer the parties have been married, particularly if one spouse has not worked for many years, the more likely it is that a support order will be issued.
  7. The employability of the custodial spouse and the impact on children – The judge will consider whether the spouse who has custody of the children can find gainful employment and whether securing such employment will negatively impact the children of the marriage.
  8. General age and health of the parties – There is no hard-and-fast equation for this factor, but rather the judge must seek an equitable solution.
  9. Domestic violence – Any history of domestic violence must be documented and proven in order to be considered in regards to spousal support.
  10. Tax consequences – There are situations where any spousal support could create taxable events that would place undue burden on one or both parties.
  11. Goal of self support – Most spousal support considerations should include analysis of whether the supported spouse can eventually support him or herself.
  12. Relative hardships – This involves basic equity and the judge’s duty to not impose unfair burdens on the supporting party.
  13. Conviction for spousal abuse – Any record of a conviction for spousal abuse is a required factor to consider.
  14. General equity – Overall, the judge must move towards a spousal support decision that’s fair to both parties.

Discussing Spousal Support Modification

There are some California divorces that result in an order for spousal support to be paid by one spouse to another for a variety of reasons. When these orders are entered, they tend to be seen as orders that are generally permanent in nature. Fortunately, that is not necessarily the case, as there are different scenarios that are basically founded on fairness that allow for spousal support orders to be modified. Those who have reason to pursue such a modification should seek the help of experienced San Diego family law attorneys, and below is a brief introduction to this issue.

Reasons for a Modification in California Spousal Support

There are a number of specific reasons that can arise that lead to a finding that spousal support should be modified in California, and the legal standard that the court tends to use is known as a material change of circumstances. This material change can occur in several different ways, and when someone files an Order to Show Cause with the court, similar factors will be used to decide whether that spousal support order should be modified as were used when originally deciding on the issue during the divorce. Examples of these factors include:

  • The ability to maintain the marital standard of living in relation to earning potential for each party
  • Contributions to the other spouse’s education, job training and the like
  • The supporting spouses ability to pay the support
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and health of the parties

There are other factors that can be and are used, but when someone decides to attempt to modify spousal support, that person needs to show that a material change in circumstances has occurred when applying these factors.

Examples of Material Changes in Circumstances

While every case is different and every situation is somewhat unique, there are certain situations that can arise that can lead to a modification of spousal support. Examples of these common situations include:

  • The loss of income of the supporting spouse
  • A substantial rise in the income of the spouse receiving support
  • Cohabitation of the spouse receiving support
  • A refusal of the spouse receiving support to find employment when generating income is possible

Once again, there are many scenarios that can arise, but the bottom line for anyone who feels that things have changed and that their spousal support order should do so accordingly should take immediate steps to get this process moving.

How to Proceed

Of course, even if the original decision is made regarding spousal support, it does not mean that it cannot be terminated or modified should circumstances change. If you need help with this issue, contact the San Diego spousal support lawyers at the Law Offices of James D. Scott today to schedule an initial consultation.
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