Articles Tagged with santa rosa spousal support attorney

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domestic abuseIf you have suffered mental, emotional, or physical domestic abuse throughout your marriage, you may feel like you cannot escape the marriage fast enough. One thing, though, may be plaguing your mind: If you have made significantly more money than your spouse, concerns about having to pay spousal support are probably more than a little irksome. What are your rights and responsibilities going forward? While every situation is different, an experienced local family practice attorney can guide you going forward. 

What is Domestic Abuse? 

The statistics on domestic violence in this country are deeply troubling. 10 million instances of domestic abuse — roughly 20 people per minute — are physically harmed by an intimate partner every year in America. Nearly one-fifth of those incidents involve the use of a weapon. 

What is the legal definition of domestic violence? California code 6203 defines domestic violence as: 

  • The intentional and/or reckless attempt to cause bodily harm;
  • Assault of a sexual nature;
  • Causing rear that one will cause serious harm to another imminently;
  • Engaging in behavior that may or may not result in actual physical assault or injury.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that such instances of domestic abuse occur in all kinds of relationships and involve individuals of all races, socioeconomic levels, education levels, religions, and genders. It is generally a control tactic; domestic abusers use fear as a weapon to get what they want from their victims, who often feel coerced, intimidated, and powerless. 

The Conviction Does Matter 

The good news for you is, having a domestic violence conviction will impact the outcomes of your divorce agreement. The extent of financial protections afforded a domestic abuse victim varies depending on the type of conviction and the time frame of that conviction. 

For misdemeanor convictions that occurred within the past five years of your marriage, a judge will postulate that you should not have to either pay spousal support or pay for your spouse’s attorney’s fees under the doctrine of rebuttable presumption. However, your spouse may fight against that presumption and provide additional evidence to attempt to convince the judge otherwise. 

If your spouse was convicted of a domestic violence felony or a violent sexual felony within the past five years, or within five years of being imprisoned, paroled, or on probation, you cannot be ordered to pay any spousal support or for your spouse’s attorney’s fees.  Continue reading →

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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 Support Tax Law ChangeHow does the new spousal support tax law for 2018 affect couples currently divorcing or considering a divorce? On Friday, December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the new tax reform bill into law. The changes went into effect on January 1, 2018.

The tax law preceding the new tax reform bill of 2018 made payments of spousal support (alimony) deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient.

The prior law held: “Amounts paid to a spouse or a former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument (including a divorce decree, a separate maintenance decree, or a written separation agreement) may be alimony for federal tax purposes. Alimony is deductible by the payer spouse, and the recipient spouse must include it in income.”

Spousal Support Tax Law Change

Under the new law, spousal support is no longer tax deductible to the payor nor is it taxable to the recipient. While the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018, this change will not affect anyone who is divorced prior to December 31, 2018. Consequently, parties who divorce prior to that date will be “grandfathered” in to the old law regarding tax consequences of spousal support. There will be no effect on those parties who divorced prior to December 31, 2018.

The number of payors of spousal support who took the support deduction on their federal tax returns in 2015 was approximately 600,000. While nothing will change for them, the payors who divorce after December 31, 2018 will no longer have the benefit of deducting their support payments.

The new spousal support tax law rules won’t affect anyone who divorces or signs a separation agreement before 2019, but undoubtedly this new spousal support tax law will change the landscape of divorce cases, family law litigation and settlements for years to come in terms of how parties approach spousal support. Continue reading →

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support PaymentsSupport 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 →

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spousal support payments, spousal supportHow are spousal support payments calculated in a California divorce? Ending a marriage can affect almost every aspect of your life, including your financial stability. In many relationships, one party chooses to forgo education or pursuing a career in order to support the other person’s ambitions. Even if this is not the case, some couples fall into “earner” and “caretaker” roles, particularly when there are children involved. This may result in significant economic inequality between the parties to a marriage, and may leave one spouse without any income absent judicial intervention.

Fortunately for some who people seeking a divorce, California law allows a court to order spousal support payments (or partner support payments, in the case of a domestic partnership) in order to provide for the financial needs of the party unable to support themselves financially. Spousal support payments can significantly impact both parties: the one ordered to pay and one receiving spousal support payments. Consequently, it is important for anyone involved in a divorce or other legal proceeding in which spousal support is at issue to discuss their case with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

How Are Spousal Support Payments Awarded?

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