San Marcos, CA – You’re getting a divorce, and your head is spinning from all the minutiae involved in the process. It’s now time for you and your soon-to-be ex to determine the issue of spousal support, more commonly known as alimony.
Solana Beach divorce attorney John Griffith explains, “Spousal support is a multifaceted issue and doesn’t boil down to income alone. There are many factors to be considered, so it’s necessary to consult with a family law professional.”
What Are Some Elements that Affect Alimony Payments?
Though each divorce case is as unique as the people who comprise the couple, there are some reasons for alimony payments to be more closely considered.
- Dividing debts: Many people think alimony’s bottom line is determined by each party’s income. When settling your divorce agreement, spousal support amounts will need to have all debts taken into consideration. If, for example, you and your spouse choose to evenly divide your debts, but he or she doesn’t hold up his or her end of it, this can affect your ability to pay alimony.
- Duration of marriage… and payments: If your marriage lasted a short duration, alimony payments should typically last only half as long as the marriage itself did. It’s best to decide how long payments will go on and have it written into the agreement. If your marriage was longer lasting, it’s still good to have an end date in sight for the payments.
- Self–employment: For spouses who are self-employed, it’s natural that monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly income may fluctuate a great deal. Thus, relying on tax returns alone isn’t the best way to determine spousal support payment amounts.
- Marital standard of living: Whether you or your spouse makes more money after the divorce, the other party likely shouldn’t be entitled to that extra income. The term “marital standard of living” means the expenses and income you as a couple experienced during the marriage, not afterwards. If you’re anticipating making more money after your divorce, it may be reasonable to include a cap or ceiling on your alimony agreement beforehand.
- Vocational examiner: If your alimony-seeking spouse is able to be employed but chooses not to, per California law, you have the option of having a vocational examiner ordered by the court. This person will determine your spouse’s earning capacity, ability, and opportunity for employment. While this process may cost you a bit of money, it might be worth it if you suspect your spouse is remaining willfully unemployed for the sake of collecting alimony.
- Lack of need for alimony: Does your spouse have another way to support him or herself? If your future ex has a large inheritance, property, or other ways to pay for living expenses without spousal support, California Family Code section 4321(a) may help in this situation.
- Sole custody of children: As cited above, California Code section 4321(b) states that the parent with sole child custody may in some cases be exempt from alimony payments, as that party is already paying for the children’s support and well-being.
- Cohabitating with a non-spousal partner: If your future ex-spouse is living with another person, California Family Code section 4323 states that there may be a “decreased need for spousal support.”
Find a Qualified Professional
“When it comes to spousal support agreements and payments, it’s essential that you contact experienced family law counsel,” Griffith advises. “It’s best if you work with an attorney who focuses solely on family law so that all the nuances in your case are handled in the best possible way.”
To discuss your unique divorce or family law case, schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable team at Griffith, Young, and Lass today. This outstanding team will help you achieve a great outcome in a timely and professional manner.
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