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Spousal support (alimony) is based on established financial need on one side and ability to provide support on the other. The length of the marriage is one of the primary factors in determining whether, in what amount and how long support will be awarded.
Spousal support is not a punitive measure intended to reward one spouse and punish the other. The purpose of alimony is to help people become self-sufficient and capable of maintaining their own household for themselves and their children. If you are eligible to receive spousal maintenance, it is important to remember it is only a temporary arrangement. Alternatively, if you are required to pay it, failure to do so is a violation of a court order and could result in the garnishment of wages, jail time, or ultimately the seizure of assets.
Alimony awards are based upon many different variables:
- The receiving spouse’s education, health, work history, and earning potential
- The length of the marriage
- The paying spouse’s income, earning potential, and health
- The existence and enforceability of a prenuptial agreement
- The marital standard of living
In California, there are two basic types of spousal support:
This form of alimony can be obtained by a spouse who needs financial assistance while the divorce is still pending. Essentially, it is based on the need of one party balanced against the other party’s ability to pay. This calculation is accomplished by using a statewide, judicially-recognized guideline.
This California guideline is implemented by often utilizing computer programs which take into consideration the relative earnings of the parties. The program, when used improperly, can result in dramatically incorrect results. Our experienced Sacramento spousal support lawyers are well versed in the proper use of these programs and the complex tactics involved in entering data for the spousal support calculation.
This form of alimony, if ordered, will be calculated based on the respective incomes of each spouse, the length of the marriage and a long list of other factors contained in the state statute (Family Code section 4320). These are typically set by agreement or after a trial. An experienced attorney is critical to such an agreement or trial. A bad result may not be repairable and may affect you for years.
A spousal support award is not mandatory in dissolution or legal separation proceedings in California. Quite the contrary, courts have discretion (within statutory parameters) to deny spousal support altogether or to limit it in an amount and duration that reflects the ability of both parties to provide for their own needs.
Unlike child support, there is no set schedule or formula for spousal support levels in California. Also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, the amount of spousal support required (if any) depends on numerous factors, including the income of each spouse, their previous standard of living, the relative earning capacity of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and other financial considerations.
The propriety of a California alimony award (whether to order it and, if so, its terms) is judged broadly by the parties’ “circumstances” in reference to the standard of living established during their marriage and their respective needs and abilities to pay. [Ca Fam §§ 4320, 4330(a)]
The Sacramento Spousal Support Attorneys of Bowman & Associates have helped clients across Northern California. If you or someone you know has legal questions regarding Alimony or Spousal Support, contact our Sacramento Family Law Firm at (916) 923-2800 for your free initial consultation. We are here to help…