Support payments in California. Leaving a marriage can be a difficult decision. It is not made any easier by the financial constraints associated with dividing a household. Living separately is obviously going to cost more, and in many cases that means both parties are going to have to adjust the living standards to which they have become accustomed. How are the financial decisions made in California divorce cases? If you are seriously considering divorce, it is time to see an experienced family law attorney.
How are Spousal/Partner Support Payments Calculated?
California Family Code section 4320 lays out specific considerations to factor in when determining how much spousal or partner support payment is appropriate:
- Time: How long has the marriage or domestic partnership existed?
- Need: How can each partner best experience an equivalent standard of living?
- Liabilities: What debts will each partner keep?
- Assets: Who, if anyone, will stay in the home? What other property is being divvied up?
- Employment: Will both partners be employed, or will one have primary childcare responsibilities?
- Previous career advancement: Did one partner support the other through school or licensing programs to propel a career?
- Training: Will on partner need education or training in order to obtain meaningful employment?
- Age/Health: Do one or both partners have particular health needs that must be addressed?
- Domestic Violence: Was there mental or physical abuse in the relationship?
- Tax Impact: Because tax laws do not recognize domestic partnerships, will tax implications be favorable or unfavorable?
Temporary or Permanent Spousal Support Payments
Temporary support payments may be assigned while a case is pending; judges typically use a formula specific to their own county to make a calculation for the appropriate amount. Once the case is finalized, “permanent” support payments may be ordered based on the factors listed above. Do not be fooled by the term permanent. In this case, it simply means the order becomes valid once the divorce is finalized. It may or may not have time limits.
Changing the Support Payments
Imagine that after the divorce, the person paying support loses a job, or the person receiving support payments inherits a windfall. Either individual may, at some future time, experience a significant change in financial circumstances, prompting a request to change the amount of support. If both partners agree to the changes, a simple stipulation written up and given to the court will result in a new order relatively quickly. On the other hand, if there is a dispute, the individual requesting the change must file a motion with the court. This is something that should be done sooner rather than later, as changes to the order cannot be made retroactively. Continue reading →