Timing Your Divorce Right: The Ten-Year Rule

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmUnder California law, the lower-earning spouse getting a divorce may be entitled to spousal support for a longer term if he/she has been married to their current partner for ten years or more.  If they have been married for less than ten years, spousal support is generally limited to a duration that is equal to half the length of the marriage.

Sounds a tad confusing? Let us illustrate it with the help of an example.

A and B are going through tough times and considering a divorce. A is the higher-earning spouse here, so it is A who is expected to pay alimony to B.

  • If they have been married for, say 7 years, A needs to pay alimony to B for 3.5 years (three years and six months).
  • If they have been married to each other for 11 years, A’s support obligation will not automatically terminate after half the length of the marriage.

In real life, Mel B (of Spice Girls fame) filed for divorce from producer Stephen Belafonte just short of their 10th anniversary. They would have completed ten years on June 6, 2017. She likely did this to avoid having to pay Belafonte ongoing spousal support with no specified termination date.

Actor Tom Cruise also mentioned in his divorce filing that his marriage to Nicole Kidman lasted only nine years and eleven months. It is believed that he did so for the same reason.

So if you are considering a divorce, ask yourself: How long have you been married to your present spouse?

If you expect to receive alimony, perhaps it would be a good idea to wait until your 10th wedding anniversary. That is assuming you haven’t celebrated it already. Who knows, you just might be able to put your differences aside and enjoy true marital bliss if you wait it out. You might not even want a divorce by then.

If you are the higher-earning spouse and will be expected to pay alimony, don’t wait until your 10th wedding anniversary if you are truly unhappy in your marriage and divorce seems inevitable. The sooner you get out, the better – you will end up paying lesser as support.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

What You Need to Know About Alimony Before Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county spousal support; The Maggio Law FirmWhen you are facing a divorce, you need to be prepared for the reality i.e. alimony payments to your spouse. There are some countries or states that refer to alimony also as “maintenance” or “spousal support”. This is an active component of the divorce system of many countries all over the world. In case your earning is significantly higher than that of your spouse and both of you are married for several years, there is a lot of possibilities that you have to pay alimony to your ex-spouse after your divorce comes through. But, if the marriage has lasted for only a short duration, the court may not order for the alimony. Moreover, when you and your spouse are earning almost the same amount of money, you may not be required to pay alimony.

But in case the court has asked you to pay alimony, you need to pay a specified amount of money every month until the time:

  • Your ex-spouse gets married again
  • The judge sets a date many years in the future
  • Your kids are no longer in need of a full-time father or mother at home
  • The judge is of the view that even after a reasonable time has passed, your spouse did not make enough efforts to become at least partially self-supporting
  • Any other important event like the occurrence of a retirement that makes the judge revise the alimony amount to be paid to your spouse
  • When any of the ex-spouses dies

Just like any other issues that arise in a divorce, you and your spouse can sit together and sort out the matter related to the amount and duration of the payment of alimony. But, if both of you cannot come to a conclusion and decide to knock the court’s doors, chances are that a trial will take place, which can cost you a lot of money and time.

When you are expected to pay alimony

Simply because you are required to pay alimony to your ex-spouse, it does not mean that you are not a good person. Instead, you should regard it as the expenses of your marriage that you had thought would continue until one of you die. However, that did not happen for-what-so-ever reasons. The history of alimony has been continuing for hundreds of years. Though it is not ordered that frequently these days, it does not mean that the court will stop ordering one of the ex-spouses to pay alimony to the other party for good.

When you are expected to receive alimony

The decision on whether you are entitled to receive alimony or not depends on how much capacity you have to earn. Your earning could have changed from the time you approached the court for receiving your alimony. It also depends on the amount of money earned by your spouse and what was the standard of your living while the marriage lasted. You could be also asked to make some alterations in both your work and life. For instance, in case you are in a part-time job and it does not pay well, you may be needed to look around for a full-time job that is likely to pay you well.

Sometimes, experts known as “vocational evaluators” can be retained in a divorce case to determine the employability and job prospects of a spouse who has not been in a full-time employment for some time now. It is important to discuss this option with your divorce attorney.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Calculating Child Support And Alimony In A Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmManaging finances during divorce is a skill every individual who is heading for a divorce needs. It’s better to be mentally prepared for a financial loss than be unprepared at all. First there is the question of property. If you’re someone who has accumulated a lot of wealth during your marriage, then brace yourself for some financial damage unless you claim most of them to be a separate property. Next, if you and your spouse have considerable difference in terms of earnings, you might end up paying a certain amount as alimony. And lastly, if you have children and you lose the custody battle, then you will have to pay for child support too.

Managing finances can be a tough job and that is why you need the help of an expert divorce lawyer. To try to limit financial hardship, calculate your expenses prior to the divorce proceeding.

Calculating child support

Child support is the money you pay for your child’s education and welfare till he/she turns 18. In few cases, the support can continue till the age of 21. The amount that you need to pay for child support depends on many factors. Your annual income plays a deciding factor and so does your ability to take debts. If you’re the non-custodial parent, then prepare yourself to pay more than your spouse. Other important factors which the court will look at is the age of your child and who is paying for the health insurance.

Calculating Alimony

Usually alimony is calculated after child support. The court will look at your financial capability to support your spouse after you have paid for child support. Unlike child support which is based on what is good for the child, alimony calculations are based on how much you can provide to your ex. Factors like income, property and child support is taken into consideration while calculating alimony.

Conclusion

It is important to manage your finances during divorce. It should be done through an experienced divorce lawyer because it not unusual to lose a lot of money during divorce and only a lawyer can help you take the best decision. Calculating your alimony and child support expenses will help you make good decisions regarding finances. Bankruptcy is one of the major pitfalls of divorce and good financial management is only way to survive it.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Concepts About Terminating Spousal Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmTerminating spousal support is a big issue. The party that is receiving the support wants to be supported for as long as possible and the party that is paying for the support wants to end it as quickly as possible.  There are reasons for ending spousal support, such as:

  • The person getting the support may no longer need it as they are self-sufficient
  • The person paying the support might not be able to afford to pay for it any longer
  • The person getting the support is making no efforts to be self-sufficient
  • The person getting the support has remarried

How to terminate spousal support?

The first step to terminating spousal support is to assess the living conditions of both the parties and the length and flexibility of the support. The attorney should then find out if the court order has a Gavron warning attached to it. A Gavron warning is a warning issued by the court that requires the person receiving the support to become self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time.

For marriages that last less than 10 years, that reasonable amount of time for payment of spousal support is usually half of the length of the marriage. Marriages that are longer than 10 years have a different set of rules to follow. A point to be noted is that there is no such thing as a lifetime support. According to California Family Code Section 4320, the spouse who’s getting supported should become self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time.

After assessing the spouse who’s getting supported for the steps that he/she is taking to become self-sufficient, the attorney will build a case to bring it to the court. If the spouse getting supported has increased earnings, the attorney can argue to reduce the alimony and possibly reduce it or terminate it if possible. If the ex-spouse hasn’t started working yet, a vocational examination can be done to determine the ex-spouse’s ability to work. These methods can be effectively used to reduce the alimony to an eventual zero.

Also, Family Code §4322 can be used as a potential argument to terminate spousal support if the ex-spouse:

  • has no children
  • has or acquired a separate estate from inheritance that earns income
  • has income from employment

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Collecting Unpaid Alimony in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmAlimony is the money payable by the higher income earning party or spouse to the lower income earning party after the couple has separated or divorced. Usually, a family court issues an order stating the amount of alimony or spousal support payable by the financially more stable partner to his or her spouse until the latter can find a better job or marry someone else whichever is earlier.

Remedies available to the aggrieved spouse to whom alimony is payable

In the state of California, the judge considers 13 different circumstances when he or she has to determine the amount of alimony payable and the period of time for which it will be payable. Spousal and child support is compulsorily payable by the person whose name is mentioned in the court order passed. If the spouse who is supposed to make regular alimony payments fails to do so within the stipulated periods of time, then the other spouse can exercise remedial measures against the defaulting party.

The spouse can first apply to the spousal or child support agency that is handling your case and asks for an enforcement order to be passed. The agency will then calculate the amount of alimony due from the other spouse mentioned in the spousal support order previously passed by the family court and order the same to be paid by the defaulting spouse. The spouse will be required to state his or her reasons as to why the alimony payments were not made on time and will be given a reasonable amount of time to arrange for the money.

What are the more serious steps that can be taken against the defaulting spouse?

The spouse to whom the alimony is payable to is required to keep detailed statements and information about the alimony payments made, time of payments, etc. before initiating any legal action or court proceedings against the other spouse. If the defaulting spouse ignores to make payments after being notified by the spousal or child support agency, the agency can then issue spousal support orders by garnishing bank accounts or wages of the defaulting spouse, seizing his property, suspending his driver’s license and other work licenses. California laws allow these agencies to issue garnishing orders to the spouse and divert state or federal tax refunds.

Last resort remedial measures that can be taken

If after all this the spouse fails to pay the alimony the spousal support agency and the aggrieved spouse can file a motion for a personal hearing in the family court that handled the same divorce case. This is a form of income for withholding support and is available on the California Courts website. The motion for the hearing has to be served to the defaulting spouse by the court and the purpose of this hearing is to discuss the financial arrangements between both spouses and offer all remedies available to the aggrieved party and make sure alimony is paid.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

How Are Alimony Payments Affected by Bankruptcy?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWhat is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can put a person in a huge financial predicament and occurs when that person has not been spending his money wisely and his expenditure has exceeded his income. Bankruptcy disallows the person from making necessary or important payments, paying off creditors, getting loans from banks and has a lot of other negative impacts on a person’s financial situation.

If a couple is undergoing a divorce and one spouse is required to make alimony payments to the other spouse and that spouse has filed for bankruptcy, then it can be very difficult for him or her to make the alimony payments. If the spouse is bankrupt, he can use this as a tool to avoid or escape making spousal support payments.

Dischargeable and nondischargeable debts

Bankruptcy disallows a person from discharging his debts. There are certain bills, payments, and expenses that are completely avoidable when a person files for bankruptcy and these are specified in the laws in the state of California. But some debts are nondischargeable which means they cannot be avoided or eliminated just because the person is bankrupt. These include tax payments, loans taken and alimony.

Even though alimony or spousal support and child support are some of the payments that fall under the nondischargeable debt category there are two situations in which alimony payments would be exempted from this category and the spouse would be discharged from making these payments.

U.S. State laws regarding alimony and bankruptcy 

Section 523 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code clarifies that persons or debtors cannot be discharged from making spousal or child support payments because of bankruptcy. It states that alimony payments are nondischargeable debts under the laws of federal bankruptcy, however, there are two exceptions to this rule:

1.   Involvement of third parties 

If a third party becomes involved in the spousal support arrangements, then the alimony payments become dischargeable even though the spouse is declared bankrupt. If the spouse hands over the burden of alimony payments to a relative in his family, then he is discharged from making the alimony payments himself.

2.  Incorrect divorce documents

When a couple gets divorced the court awards them a divorce decree. This document is one of the most important documents in a divorce and specifies the reasons for the divorce and the terms and conditions of alimony/child support payments. If for any reason there are some mistakes or errors made in the divorce decree with regard to the nature and type of alimony required to be paid, then the spouse who is required to make the payments can be discharged of those debts if he is bankrupt.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

The Concept of ‘Jackson Credit’ for Child Support in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThere have been instances in California divorces where one parent has ended up giving 100% of his/her time for child support despite being granted equal child support in the court. Usually, the parent who takes care of the child for the majority of time should pay less but in some cases, the reverse has taken place.  The ‘Jackson credit’ became applicable after the famous Jackson vs. Jackson case.

The Jackson vs. Jackson case

In the Jackson vs. Jackson case, the mother charged the father with child support defaults while the child has been living with the father for 100% of the time. Initially, the trial court supported the mother saying the father attempted to change court orders for child care support. However, when the father appealed, the court said that even though the law does not allow an individual parent to make changes in child care support rules, the father fulfilled his obligations for child support.

What is a Jackson Credit?

A Jackson Credit is granted to noncustodial parents who prove that during custodial support, they paid their share of the custodial support. Courts allow child care support credits to parents who take care of the child and provide child care support as well. It saves one parent from substantial financial damage that can be incurred during child care support.

When can a Jackson Credit be claimed?

During arrears calculation, a non-custodial parent can claim a Jackson Credit for the time he/she spent with the child when he/she was not supposed to. Parents who can provide evidence that the child was under his/her care 100% of the time are eligible for Jackson Credits. In many cases, parents who have failed to show proper evidence have been barred from receiving a Jackson credit. Knowing how the credit system works can help save unnecessary financial loss. It is, therefore, important to talk to an attorney first before proceeding with the Jackson Credit.

The Jackson credit is applicable for parents who have paid for child care despite giving 100% of their time for child care. The credit system has been established to help parents save themselves from financial losses. The Jackson credit was created after a famous case that involved a mother demanding child care support from a father even when the father has been taking care of the child the entire time. If you are faced with a similar situation, it is vital that you speak to an experienced lawyer.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

What Role Does Parent’s Income Play In Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDuring a divorce that involves children, one of the parent ends up having custody over the children while the other parent pays a certain amount as child support.  It is very important that parents calculate the amount of child support they need to pay. Parents should first work out where and with whom the children will live. Once that is sorted out, both parents should decide on a certain amount that must be paid for child support. The parent who loses custody battle usually become the primary child support payer. It is usually the parent with the higher income.

To calculate the gross annual income, parents need to look at their income tax return and the amount that is stated. From that amount they must minus union dues if present. It will give a fair idea of what each parent earns in a month. Additionally, they can contact a Child Support Services officer to help them chalk out the best plan for child support.

A split parenting can occur when there are more than two children involved and when each parent becomes the primary caretaker of each child. In such cases, it becomes the duty to each parent to contribute equally for child support. But that again it depends on the annual income of each parent.

There are many child support calculators available online. Such online calculator which has been created by the state gives an relatively accurate idea about the amount each parent need to spend each year for child support.

Conclusion

Parental income is very important for child support decisions because it determines how much each parent should pay for supporting their child. A child support calculator considers important factors like annual salary and expenses and determines a guideline amount to be paid.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

Does Adultery Affect Spousal Support in California?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmWhen it comes to dealing with the cases of legal separation or divorce, the California courts follow the no-fault approach that specifically states that an individual is not required to prove the ‘fault’ of another party to obtain a divorce. This implies that a judge in California will not, under any circumstance, consider adultery or infidelity of a partner as a deciding factor while granting the divorce. However, there are certain considerations which a court might make in deciding the spousal support or alimony in an adulterous marriage.

How adultery can effect the spousal support in a divorce

More often than not, while dealing with a case of adultery in a divorce, a judge has the discretion to decide upon the duration and amount of spousal support to be paid and also whether there is any need for support at all. Infidelity cannot be used as a weapon to deny an adulterous spouse his or right to receive alimony from the other partner, if he or she is found eligible for it. However, if an adulterous spouse moves in with his or her new partner and starts living with them during the litigation process, the situation might turn somewhat complicated for both the parties. Owing to the fact, that a judge will only consider an individual’s financial requirements and not his personal conduct, the amount of spousal support to be received by an adulterous partner might be decreased, if he or she continues to cohabitate with a new lover, on the grounds of an improved quality of life and the sharing of expenses.

The factors that influence spousal support

The court of law is obliged to consider a few pivotal factors in deciding upon the final settlement for alimony.

  • Whether the earning capacity of both partners is sufficient for maintaining the quality of life established during their relationship or not
  • The contribution of the receiver in catering to the financial needs of the other partner during the marriage
  • A partner’s ability to pay the required amount of spousal support to the other spouse
  • The length or duration of the marriage
  • The health and age of both the spouses
  • Any history of domestic violence or child abuse that might have occurred during the marriage
  • Any criminal convictions on the receiving spouse
  • The tax implications of receiving and paying the spousal support on each of the two partners

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Can Spouses Convicted Of Domestic Violence Get Alimony?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

restraining orders Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDomestic violence is an unpleasant subject and has plagued the lives of many couples. The number of domestic violence cases are more than that which get reported every year. Domestic violence is often one of the grounds on which one spouse seeks divorce. In California, domestic violence can mean many different things and you should carefully read through the California law before proceeding with the case.

Domestic violence in California

California is a “no-fault” state but in certain cases like domestic violence fault is a factor. In California, fault is thoroughly examined when spousal supports are determined in a domestic violence case.

California law states that after divorce the higher earner must support the lower earner. But in domestic violence cases, this law can be overlooked. For example, if domestic violence charges are against a spouse who earns lower then, after divorce, the other spouse need to provide spousal support.

California Family Code section 4323 clearly states that spousal support won’t be given if a spouse is charged and found guilty of domestic violence. In a standard divorce, the low-earner receives spousal support unless he/she is charged with domestic violence. If he/she is found guilty then any monetary compensation or other help will get terminated. One issue is that the marriage must have lasted for at least five years after which the rule stands true. The law is found in some of the states and provides a helping hand to the victims of domestic violence.

Examination by courts

Any domestic violence that has been documented will be examined thoroughly by trial courts. The decision will determine whether spousal support will be provided or not. Trial courts will also consider emotional distress, history of convictions and other problems which might be useful.

In California, domestic violence includes a wide range of problems. One of them is one spouse disrupting the peace of another. Domestic violence in other states might be only about physical assaults but not in California. Domestic violence is a serious offence in California and even the lightest change in behavior can lead to domestic violence.

False allegations

Can domestic violence be misused by someone? This question can be best answered by a law expert or one who has had extensive experience in dealing with such issues. The judge needs to look at all the evidence provided and after carefully going through the evidence, it will take its decision.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

 
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