Working through a divorce can be an extremely emotional time and agreements throughout court mediation are not always possible. Alimony, or spousal support, can be a central issue in divorce proceedings. Many factors concerning spousal support are highly subjective and an experienced attorney can help to protect your interests.
How the Amount of Support Is Determined
Spousal support payments are intended to be a bridge for a low-income spouse between the quality of life experienced during a marriage and the goal of self-sufficiency. Spousal support is not an automatic process and is most commonly employed in longer marriages where there is a large discrepancy between each spouse’s salaries. Deliberations concerning spousal support have no definite methods for determining appropriate monetary support and are largely left up to the discretion of the court.
Generally, when determining the amount of support necessary, a judge will consider the ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay alongside the present and projected needs of the spouse seeking support.
Factors Considered for Alimony:
- The standard of living experienced during a marriage
- Income and debts of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Present and future needs of any dependents
- Length of time a spouse has been out of the workforce
Length of Time Alimony is Received
In California, the duration of spousal support payments is most affected by the overall length of the marriage. For marriages lasting less than ten years, spousal support is commonly set for half of the duration of the marriage. For marriages lasting over ten years, the duration of spousal support is less clear and may not have a set date of termination. Although post-divorce spousal support is often referred to as “permanent”, cases of indefinite support are usually reserved for spouses who are unable to regain financial independence due to age or physical disability.
Events which can lead to the termination of spousal support include:
- The spouse receiving support remarries
- A spouse successfully becomes self-supporting
- Changes to the employment status of either spouse
- A spouse does not become self-supporting after a reasonable amount of time
Modifications to Alimony
As circumstances change, it is possible to request modifications to a spousal support agreement. Whereas a drastic change in circumstances can bring about the need to terminate spousal support, it can also lead to a modification. A change must be significant in order to modify a spousal support agreement. For example, a drastic change in income can leave one party unable to continue payment of the agreed-upon amount. A timeline for considering modifications can also be written into the terms of a spousal support agreement, but it must be approved by both parties.
A Divorce Law Firm That Aggressively Works to Protect Your Assets
When you are going through a divorce, dividing assets fairly between you and your spouse can be a point of contention. If both parties cannot come to an agreement on how to fairly handle the division of assets, the courts will divide your property as directed by California law. If you are currently working through a divorce, our divorce attorney can keep you informed of your rights and guide you through this difficult time.
Community and Separate Property
California is one of ten states which classify all property owned by a spouse as either community property, which is owned by both parties equally, or separate property, which is wholly owned by one spouse. During divorce proceedings, community property is divided equally between each party while each spouse is entitled to keep assets classified as separate.
Not every possession is capable of being split between spouses and property division does not necessarily mean that an exact division of all property physically occurs. Generally, each spouse will receive a share of the total estate equal to the value which they are awarded. All debts such as mortgages, car loans, and credit card balances are also counted along with assets and included in the division of property.
In California, property which either spouse acquires while married is almost always considered to be community property and thus owned by both parties.
Separate property can include assets which were:
- Acquired before divorce is completed but after separation
- Clearly and independently owned before the marriage
- A gift or inheritance from a third party
- Acquired by directly exchanging separately owned property
- Derived from a separate property which increased in value
Protecting Your Assets
When dividing assets, the line between community and separate property is not always clear. Most marriages contain an instance where one spouse contributed or added value to the personal property of their partner. For example, a spouse might deposit funds into what was previously a separate financial account.
The date a couple is considered to be separated can also be subjective and if couples cannot agree, a date will be determined by a judge. An ambiguous date of separation can call into question the status of property acquired near the end of a marriage. The process of asset division can be extremely complicated and an attorney from our firm can provide legal advocacy to ensure you receive your fair share of total assets.
Due to the nature of property division, a spouse may try to hide or undervalue the total worth of their assets. It is illegal to engage in this sort of manipulation and doing so can have strict penalties. When going through a divorce, it is important to thoroughly document all property and accurately appraise all assets. If you think your spouse has or is planning to shield their assets from property division, our firm can take the appropriate steps to see that your interests are protected.