Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be obtained by court order for a party needing financial assistance during the dissolution proceedings. Spousal support may also be ordered to be paid to a spouse for a specific length of time after the marriage has been dissolved and, in some cases, an order for support may be permanent. Spousal support must be ordered by the court, although parties may contractually agree on an amount of support payable and request that the court enter the agreement as an order.
A court ordering spousal support must consider all of the following statutorily enumerated factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The needs of each party
- Financial resources and liabilities of each party, including separate property
- Each party’s source(s) of income
- The impact of the custodial parent’s employment on the needs of the minor children
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s ability to be self-supporting
- Tax consequences to each party
- The contribution of each party to domestic duties
- The contribution of each party to the education and training of the other party
- Domestic violence
Once court ordered, the amount of spousal support payable and the duration of payment may only be modified upon a showing of a change in circumstances.
California law establishes the rebuttable presumption that absent an agreement to the contrary, if the spouse receiving support cohabitates with a new romantic partner, that spouse’s need for support has decreased. This is one example of a change in circumstances. The law also provides that unless otherwise agreed upon, an order for spousal support terminates upon the death of either party or remarriage of the party receiving support. However, if the parties specifically agree that an order for spousal support is not subject to modification or termination, the amount payable may never be modified regardless of changed circumstances.
Given the variations in the law and the numerous factors affecting the amount of spousal support payable from one party to the other, it is essential that you receive sound legal advice, whether you are the party paying support or the party receiving support. If litigation is in your best interest, we meticulously discover and document all relevant factors and aggressively advocate on your behalf to ensure that the court’s order of support is fair and just.