Spousal Support Questions

Questions related to Spousal Support in California Family Law Cases

What is temporary spousal support?

Temporary spousal support is spousal support ordered and paid during the pendency of a proceeding for divorce. Some counties in California adhere to a guideline calculation when ordering spousal support. Temporary support in these counties is calculated much like child support with the family court judge plugging numbers into a calculator and ordering what the computer says they should order. San Diego County does not necessarily adhere to a guideline calculation. However divorce lawyers will use a guideline calculation as a guide when advising their clients. Often the court will use the guideline as a starting point as well.

Generally (but not always) temporary spousal support is less than the permanent spousal support order made upon either settlement or trial. The reason for this is that when considering permanent spousal support, the family court looks at many more factors including but not limited to the division of property and debts and each party’s prospective earning potential.

How much spousal support will I have to pay/ will I receive?

The amount of spousal support is determined by looking at the need of the supported spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse as well as several other factors codified as part of Family Code Section 4320. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the supported spouse is able to maintain as close to the marital standard of living as possible for a reasonable time and until that spouse can become self-supporting.

If spousal support is an issue in your case, call Griffith, Young & Lass and we can give you an estimate with respect to the level of support based on the factors that the court will consider.

How long will I have to pay spousal support?

The general rule is that for marriages of short duration (less than 10 years from the date of marriage to date of separation) spousal support lasts for one half the term of the marriage. For marriages of long duration (over ten years from date of marriage to date of separation) the term of spousal support is indefinite and the court will not set a cut-off date during the initial divorce proceeding.

There are many ways to negotiate settlement when it comes to spousal support. Often parties will agree to a lump sum buyout in exchange for termination of spousal support obligation. I will often negotiate a step down approach to settling spousal support disputes.

Can spousal support be modified?

Spousal support can be modified any time there is a change in the circumstances of the parties. For marriages of long duration, wherein a cut-off date for permanent spousal support is not negotiated, the supporting spouse has the affirmative obligation to seek a downward modification or a termination in support. If he/she does not obtain an order for a reduction or termination in support, the previous order stands. Spousal support does not automatically change when the supporting spouse loses his/her job, retires, or receives a cut in pay.

As a supporting spouse, it is always wise to revisit the financial circumstances of the parties every year by requesting that the supporting spouse submit an Income and Expense Declaration. If you need help with a spousal support modification, call Griffith, Young & Lass today for a free consultation from an experienced San Diego Divorce Attorney.