What Do I Need to Know Concerning Spousal Support in My Orange County Divorce Case?
California law makes a very important distinction between “short-term” (also known as “lite” spousal support) and “long-term” (i.e. beyond the divorce itself) spousal support that is extremely important to understand. This distinction affects how the court determines the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support. For marriages less than 10 years in duration, California law and precedent maintain that the spouse obligated to pay spousal support is obligated to do so for one-half the length of the actual marriage.
However, for marriages 10 years or more, the court generally has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and the longer the marriage, generally the prospect of continuing spousal support for many years to come.
To determine the amount of long-term spousal support, the Court will consider such factors as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the needs of the parties, the age, health, earning capacity and job histories of both parties.
These factors are specifically stated in California Family Code section 4320, which by law the court must consider all of the factors state in 4320.
California Family Code section 4320 states as follows concerning long-term “permanent” spousal support:
In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:
a. The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
- The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to develop or acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
- The extent to which the supported party’s present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
b. The extent to which the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
c. The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets and standard of living.
d. The need of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
e. The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
f. The duration of the marriage.
g. The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
h. The age and health of the party.
i. Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
j. The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
k. The balance of the hardships to each party.
l. The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of a long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court’s discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
m. The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.
n. Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm, by visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com or calling (949) 553-0304.
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