Alimony in a divorce is a big issue in California. It is the cause of a lot of tension in both divorce and post-judgment procedures. At Bansmer Law we know how crucial it is to understand the law around alimony in California and how it can affect you as the higher income spouse. Without the right attorney you could end up paying alimony for the rest of your life. You have to go into divorce proceedings with all the necessary information to lessen the financial burdens of your future.
How Is Alimony Calculated In California
Temporary alimony in California, is the alimony that a judge may order you, as the spouse with the higher income, to pay before the finalization of the divorce. Temporary alimony is generally based on your spouse’s needs and your ability to pay. The same computer program that is used to calculate child support is used to calculate your temporary support payments. The Court uses the same information that it uses to calculate child support. This includes income, tax filing status, exemptions and certain allowed deductions. The program uses that information to determine what is your net disposable income. It figures out what your temporary alimony is based on that. This program is not used to determine long-term alimony, as that is expressly forbid within California alimony laws.
The alimony order at the time of final judgment is based on Family Code 4320. This section determines the standard of living that was established in the marriage. Many factors are involved when determining this. The court’s goal is to create an alimony order, if needed, that is reasonable. Factors that are considered include:
- The earning capacity for each spouse
- How much the supported spouse contributed to your education and professional development within the marriage
- Your ability to pay alimony
- Your needs and your spouse’s needs based on the standard of living that was established within your marriage.
- Debts and assets including real estate
- Length of your marriage
- Your spouse’s ability to be employed without detrimentally affecting the care of minor children
- Age and health
- Any domestic violence history
- tax consequences to each party
- the balance of hardships to each party
- The ability of your spouse to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time
- any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse, and
- Anything else the judge wishes to take into account
When the judge takes into account the standard of living during a marriage they account for whether you and your spouse lived above your means, how frugal the marriage was, the debts accrued and how likely it is that standard of living can be maintained after divorce.
How Long Do I Have To Pay Alimony?
Temporary alimony only last until the final judgement and can be applied retroactively from the date of filing if requested and at the judge’s discretion.
Rehabilitative alimony is usually supposed to last only as long as it takes your spouse to gain the skills or training to re-enter the workforce.
In terms of marriage length, the general rule is that for marriages that lasted for less than 10 years, you pay alimony for half the length of the marriage.
Something that is unique to California is that they offer reimbursement support. If your spouse financially helped you advance your career and education, they could request that you pay them for the money they lost investing in you. It comes with the understanding that many times in a marriage one spouse contributes to the others career advancements and aspirations acknowledging that both of you will benefit from it. But when you get divorced, only one person benefits.
In some cases the judge may award permanent alimony. Permanent alimony ends when your spouse remarries or dies. In marriages longer than ten years, the judge sometimes does not set a duration period and it falls on you as the payor to take the necessary steps to end alimony payments.
With the progression of time, many courts have changed their views on the purpose of alimony. Whereas it was first used to support the woman in the marriage for a lifetime after a divorce, due to the historical concept of marriage and women in society, more courts now see it as simply a transition from married to single life. Alimony in California can be paid or received by either spouse until the spouse becomes self-supported.
Can I Modify Alimony After My Final Judgement?
There are still people who get stuck paying alimony for a lifetime and if you’re one of those people it is crucial to get a lawyer immediately for post-judgment modification procedures in order to appeal this lifetime support. There are several reasons to modify or terminate alimony in California as the payor. There could be change in your finances, or you’ve become ill or disabled and are unable to work anymore.
You can even argue that your ex-spouse isn’t making a good faith effort to become self-supported. It’s important to have proof for any of these claims. One way to get proof for the good-faith claim could be to hire a vocational examiner. In short, a vocational examiner, determines a spouse’s ability, capacity and opportunity to earn. Most likely you would have to be the one to pay for this examination, but it may be worth it in the long run. At any rate it is important to talk to an experienced family law lawyer before making any major moves in regards to this.
Call A Stockton Family Lawyer Today To Help You With Alimony In California
If you are about to or getting a divorce and you know that you are the spouse with the higher income, it is essential to hire an experienced lawyer who can protect your interests. While we may have simplified it in this article, dealing with alimony in California can be a very complex and tricky process. At Bansmer Law we are there to guide you through the process and give you all the information you need to go into this with your eyes wide open and prepared for everything. If you are thinking of modifying a final judgement, we can help you get the evidence you need to convince a judge to either modify or terminate spousal support payments.