Articles Tagged with alimony

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alimony reformThe alimony reform movement in California. 25 years ago, Steve Clark committed to holy matrimony with his now ex-wife, Cindy. Had he realized at the time that he might be strapped with a lifetime of alimony payments, he says he would never have gotten married. The idea of forking over his hard-earned cash every month for spousal support—potentially until his dying day—just rubs him the wrong way. It is so abhorrent to him, in fact, that he has spearheaded an alimony reform initiative to address it. 

Understanding Current California Spousal Support Laws

Under current California law, a judge may require one party to pay the other monthly spousal support in the event a marriage or domestic partnership ends. A number of factors converge in the determination of the amount and length of time required for these payments. Some of the issues considered include:

  • How long the couple was married or in a domestic partnership;
  • The standard of living and the amount needed to sustain it;
  • Each person’s earning capacity;
  • Whether or not child care is a factor inhibiting employment;
  • The necessity for education or training for one partner;
  • Whether or not domestic violence was an issue;
  • The amount of property and debt to be shared.

The 10-Year Rule

Spousal support is designed to ensure support for a reasonable amount of time. In many instances, that winds up being half the length of the marriage. However, there is an important exception, and that is when the union is considered long-term—10 years or more. In that situation, a judge may choose not to assign an end date on spousal support payments. If one or both partners wish to end the requirement, a judgment must be sought and issued. The only other way to end the obligation is for the recipient of the support to remarry, register a new domestic partnership, or perish.

The Alimony Reform Initiative to Change California Law

The 10-year rule is presumably what motivated Clark to seek to change the law. His alimony reform proposal called for a maximum spousal support length of five years. Child support, he argues, is required for a maximum of just 18 years. Why should spousal support exceed that time frame, and interfere with core values such as accountability, self-reliance, and other rights?

In order to succeed in getting the matter on the ballot, Clark needed to get 623,000 signatures supporting the idea. If he had been successful, voters could weigh in on the matter in 2020. Continue reading →

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Spousal SupportDetermining Spousal Support. Divorcing couples often have questions regarding the financial obligations of a higher-earning spouse toward a lesser-earning spouse. In some instances, one spouse may not have held gainful employment at all, leaving him or her with potential financial woes were it not for spousal support ordered through the courts. This complex issue requires the consideration of multiple factors. An experienced divorce attorney can help you maneuver the paperwork and pitfalls of this and other matters you will encounter in the course of a divorce.

Factors Considered in Determining Spousal Support

Just how much financial support might the court order, and for what period of time? Factors examined will include:

  • The duration of the marriage/domestic partnership;
  • Necessities required for each person to maintain a similar standard of living;
  • Current and potential earnings of each person;
  • Other obligations, such as child care, that would impact the ability to work;
  • Health issues and age of the individuals divorcing;
  • Assets and debts;
  • Previous support from one spouse to another while getting an education;
  • History of domestic violence;
  • Tax issues.

How Long Will Spousal Support Payments be Ordered?

The courts will look at the above considerations and make a determination as to the amount and duration of payments. Generally speaking, payments will last for at least half as many years as the length of the marriage. Some marriages of lengthy duration may require support payments until the remarriage or death of the receiving spouse.

Changes in Support in Future Years

Either partner may request changes in the amount of support at a future date. There are some basic situations in which this might occur:

  • The financial status of one of the individuals changes significantly, giving the court reason to consider alternative arrangements;
  • The individual receiving support remarries or enters a domestic partnership;
  • The court issued a Gavron Warning during the initial divorce proceedings, indicating that the supported spouse must work toward self-sufficiency within a reasonable period of time, at which time support would be decreased or eliminated.
What if the Person Ordered to Pay Support Fails to do so?

If an individual ignores a court order to pay spousal support, his or her wages could be garnished. As a last resort the payer could be cited for contempt of court, and jailed for that reason.

If Wages are Garnished, can Employers Punish an Employee?

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees due to a court ordered garnishment. An individual who experiences retaliation or loses a job under these circumstances may have a legal case against his or her employer. Continue reading →

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