The Purpose of Spousal Support

Previously known as alimony, spousal support is an award which may be granted to a former spouse based on a decision made by the couple or by the court.

The purpose of spousal support is to provide a continuing income to a lower-wage-earning spouse or a non-wage-earning spouse to reduce any unfair economic effects of a divorce. There are many reasons why spousal support may be awarded, including:

One spouse has forgone his or her career to support the family and now needs time to develop job skills to develop him or herself

A spouse must continue the standard of living provided during a marriage

How Spousal Support Is Determined in California

Spousal support in our state may be determined in one of two ways:

  • By virtue of the DissoMaster (if it is temporary)
  • Determined at trial or after a judgment has been entered

The amount of spousal support paid will depend on a variety of factors. Some of the most common which are taken into consideration include:

  • The age, physical health, emotional state and financial condition of both spouses
  • The amount of time required for a spouse to “uptrain” his or herself so they can become self-sufficient
  • A couple’s standard of living
  • How long the couple was married
  • The ability of the payer spouse to support his or her former spouse and him or herself

Men Are Not More Likely to Pay Spousal Support

Because of spousal support trends of the past, there is still a myth that the courts will be more quick to award spousal support to wives than to husbands. But as a growing number of women continually earn gainful employment and more fathers are awarded primary custody of their children, the courts have kept up with these trends.

The courts do not look at gender when assessing spousal support. What they do look at is how one spouse helped the other reach gainful employment, and what may be necessary to make another spouse self-supporting.

The Length of Time Spousal Support Is Paid

Spousal support is intended on being “rehabilitative”, meaning it will be ordered for only as long as it is necessary for the recipient spouse to become self-supporting in a long-term marriage.

If a couples’ divorce degree does not specify a spousal support termination date, then the payments must continue until the court orders them to stop.

The Gavron Warning and Why It Matters

In the state of California, we have something which is referred to as a “Gavron warning”. A Gavron warning is directed towards a party who is unemployed yet who the other party believes can and should be employed and self-supporting.

Should a party refuse to take action, it is possible that both parties may go back to court and will be able to modify support based on the other party’s refusal to implement the Gavron warning.

What Happens If a Spouse Remarries

If a spouse remarries, it is very likely that the spousal support payments will come to an end. The only time in which it would continue is if both parties agree that if one remarries that the spousal support will continue.

What Happens If the Paying Spouse Dies

By statute, the right or the duty to provide support ends with death. But if the the payer of spousal support dies, do not immediately assume that the spousal support payments will come to an end. The court may order that further support be provided from the estate of the payer, including any life insurance proceeds.

What Happens If a Spouse Refuses to Pay

Spousal support works differently from child support. If a parent fails to support a child, parents have many other avenues to take to make sure that the child support is paid or the paying parent is punished.

Enforcing spousal support requires court involvement. A recipient can return to court and enter into a contempt proceeding to then enforce the payment.

Child Support Does Not Affect Spousal Support

The need for child support is completely unrelated to spousal support. When considering child support, the courts are looking at the needs of the child. When it comes to spousal support, the courts are looking into the needs of the soon-to-be or current former spouse. The two are not correlated and spousal support payments will not be reduced because of child support.

Why Hire an Attorney for Spousal Support

Filing for divorce can be stressful enough. Requesting spousal support – and wondering if you are entitled to it – can further complicate proceedings if not approached with the utmost care.

If your former spouse was the primary provider and you are not sure how you will make ends meet, or if you are unsure about whether or not you should still be paying spousal support, spousal support attorney at Lavinsky Law is here to help.

Lavinsky Law specializes in family law and helps parties negotiate fair spousal agreements and terminations. Our goal is to ensure that you are properly supported so that you can move onto the next chapter of your life as easily as possible so you can enjoy Brighter Days.

If you have any questions about spousal support or are hoping to make an adjustment to your current order, we can help.

Contact us today for a consultation at (310) 274-2717.