Despite California being a community property state, there are still disagreements over finances when it comes to dissolution of a marriage. Divorces are messy — they are even more messy when one spouse has dedicated their marriage to raising a family and taking care of the home foregoing the opportunity to pursue a career. Oftentimes, this will result in the working spouse being required to make alimony payments to the non-working spouse.
It is important to remember, alimony payments, or spousal support, can be awarded to either spouse, regardless of gender. The courts will take a hard look at a number of factors when considering alimony payments including:
While some people believe a marriage of less than 10 years means they will not have to pay alimony, this is a myth. In many cases, the court will order temporary alimony payments with an “expiration” date which is generally less than the term of the marriage. In a long-term marriage, the court may order permanent alimony payments.
One common myth about alimony is that it is meant to be punitive. This is not the case in any way. Regardless of the reasons for your divorce, there will not be an increase in the amount of alimony you can be awarded. Some other misconceptions include:
Because the length of your marriage does have an impact on alimony, it is important you understand how time factors into alimony awards. In most cases, the courts take the position a marriage which lasted 10 years or less will result in alimony being awarded for one-half of the length of the marriage. This means if your marriage lasted six years, you may be entitled to collect alimony for only three years.
For long-term marriages, other factors including health, education, and employability will be more heavily weighted. In marriages where one spouse provided support while another spouse enriched their earning capacity by either working, or caring for children and the home, or otherwise helping their spouse will be considered as well. In general, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony — and the more likely alimony will be permanent instead of temporary. To ensure permanent alimony is awarded, the final agreement or judgment must not contain a “Gavron Warning” which is defined as “fair warning to the supported spouse that s/he is expected to become self-supporting.” Your family lawyer can explain this to you further, as it may not apply in your case.
Once an order has been issued for alimony payments, either party may request the court review the order for modification provided there are no stipulations in the agreement which prohibit such a request. Before a modification may be requested however, there must be a material change which warrants the request or the court may simply deny such a request. Material changes may include:
Keep in mind, there may be other circumstances which would warrant an increase or decrease in alimony payments and if you believe you should be seeking a modification for additional alimony payments, you should speak with an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases.
As you can see, there are many factors which will be taken into consideration to determine whether you will receive alimony following a California divorce. No single answer is the same for any two people because no two people’s circumstances are identical. Instead of trying to determine it on your own, your best answers to your alimony questions can be provided by an experienced lawyer at The Law Office of Steven M. Bishop, CFLS. Your family law attorney will then review the issues specific to your case, advise you of what steps you can take legally, and help you understand what factors may impact whether you will be awarded alimony following a California divorce. You can schedule a free phone consultation at our San Diego office by calling us at 619-304-8417 or send us an email today to learn more.
FILL OUT THE FORM TO