Spousal support is a hot topic in any Orange County divorce.
Its purpose is to provide a spouse who earns significantly less to maintain a similar standard of living after divorce. Where there is sufficient, the goal of the court is to allow both parties to live at the marital standard of living. In reality, this is almost never possible in that it costs more for two people to live separated than together.
Who qualifies for spousal support?
Under California law, the marriage duration is not a factor relative to the amount of support. However, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of a spousal support order, generally. Generally, spousal support is payable for half the length of the marriage if the marriage is of less than 10 years in duration. If the marriage is of 10 years or longer duration, the support could be payable until the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. There are many relevant factors when determining the duration of support.
What factors does the court consider?
The court will consider the following factors and many others in spousal support cases:
- Who served as primary caregiver to the children
- What each spouse earns or could earn
- Each spouse’s age, needs, health, assets and debts
- Any domestic violence allegations
This list is not comprehensive. The court will consider any detail that seems relevant. Family Code section 4320 sets forth the factors considered by the court in this area.
What happens at the 10-year mark?
In California, the definition of a long-term marriage is one that passes the 10-year mark. If divorce occurs after 10 years, the lesser-earning spouse can request support for a longer period. Rather than paying for a period of five years, the other spouse could be ordered to pay support until death of either party. Permanent support orders are possible after long-term marriages under some circumstances. However, a permanent support order does not necessarily mean that it is a support order that lasts until death.
Because every case is different, the court will consider all the important details of the marriage before making a support decision.
All court ordered spousal support orders are modifiable upon a change of circumstances like the losing of a job. Spousal support is almost modifiable unless the parties agree in writing that it is non-modifiable.