The California Law on spousal support/alimony is complicated. The most important thing to understand about California spousal support is that it is an extension of the duty that married people owe to one another to support each other financially. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always kept your money in separate accounts. It doesn’t matter who earned the money.
The duty of spouses to support one another financially continues after separation, and after divorce.
Spousal Support/Alimony Payments in California
1. To get support, you will need to file a Request for Order (“RFO”). If you are leaving, or thinking of leaving, and you don’t have the means to support yourself, you’ll want to file a Request for Order for temporary support as soon as possible. Ask for enough money to keep paying your obligations. If you are the spouse that does not have the money, the other spouse will have to begin paying right after the order is issued at the court hearing.
2. The court’s objective in making the temporary spousal support order is to preserve things the way they are (the “status quo”). If you’d like to receive a custom temporary spousal support calculation, contact us to schedule your initial consult.
3. The two main factors in the ultimate spousal support order are the need of the supported party and the ability to pay of the supporting party. The need prong of the test is based on what you typically spent during the marriage.
4. The supported party has a duty to take actions to become self-supporting within a “reasonable period of time.” In a short marriage (less than 10 years) the law presumes that the “reasonable period of time” is half the length of the marriage.
5. In a long marriage (10 years or greater) there is no presumption about the length of time. The court has to hear evidence of the parties’ relative employability, education, training and work-experience. The award in long marriages is usually “opened ended,” meaning that it keeps going until the paying party files a motion to terminate or to reduce the award.
6. Whenever the hearing concerns spousal support, always ask for a Gavron warning. The judge will tell the supported party that he/she has a duty to take steps to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
This is only the barest outline. The law on this subject is tricky and complicated. Spousal support litigation can get expensive and involve financial experts. We can help you handle this issue in a cost-effective manner.