A Spouse is Entitled to Receive their Fair Value of Community Property in Addition to Spousal Support Awarded at the Divorce Court’s Discretion

The parties agreed to a property division that allowed husband to retain the community assets and “buy-out” the wife’s interest, by paying her one-half of the value of the assets over time. Husband paid wife a total of $209,500 for her interests in the community property. Additionally, the divorce court awarded wife spousal support of $600 per month. The divorce court calculated the spousal support based upon finding that wife was earning approximately $30,000 per year while husband had a gross income of $54,000 per year, in addition to a $5,000 annual bonus, and free-housing that amounted to a $6,000 value per year. Furthermore, the divorce court found that husband’s earning capacity was sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during marriage while wife was unable to do so.  Her marketable skills were substantially less than husband’s. Also, the divorce court determined wife had contributed to husband’s education during the course of their long-term marriage.

Husband had borrowed the necessary funds to “buy-out” wife, for one-half of the value of their cumulative community property. The Court explained that husband could not finance a “buy-out” of community property and then successfully claim he was unable to pay spousal support. The Court agreed with wife’s divorce attorney and determined that wife should not be penalized for contributing to the growth of community property by being denied spousal support. Further, the Court explained that where there is a need for spousal support to maintain the standard of living that had been established during the course of the marriage, it would be unfair to penalize wife for having received the amount she is entitled to from the property division. Thus, the Court denied husband’s divorce attorney’s appeal and granted wife attorney fees.

In re Marriage of Martin (1991) 229 Cal. App. 3d 1196