How Does Domestic Violence Affect Spousal Support in California?
If you are going through a divorce that involves a history of domestic violence, there are a few things you should know about how it could affect your California divorce process.
Every state is either a fault or no-fault divorce state (or a mixture of both). As a no-fault divorce state, California’s divorce statutes are based around the basis that all divorces in the state are no-fault. Being no-fault means that one spouse does not need to show that the other spouse did something wrong to qualify for a divorce. California couples can divorce without specifying one spouse as being at fault, and California courts do not consider fault when deciding on the stipulations of divorce orders. For legal purposes during divorce, it does not matter if one spouse had an affair, has a substance abuse problem or addiction, has a history of domestic violence, etc. The California family court will distribute marital property the same way regardless with one major exception: spousal support. The presence of domestic violence in a California marriage can significantly impact the court’s spousal support order.
The purpose of spousal support is to provide the spouse with a lower income/means with financial benefits so they can retain the quality of life they enjoyed during their marriage. The court awards spousal support when there is a disparity in education, work experience, careers, or incomes between two divorcing parties. This is especially true if there is a disparity due to one spouse abandoning a career or further education to care for children in their marriage. A spousal support order is intended to even the playing field between the parties. The court considers a number of factors when deciding spousal support in accordance with California Family Code Section 4320: supported party’s marketable skills, education, training, earning capacity (present and future), contributions made during marriage to other the spouse, need and assets of each party, length of marriage, ages of each party and health of each party. The court also considers documented evidence of domestic violence (physical or emotional) history between the parties or from one party against the other party’s child. The law creates the opportunity for one spouse to argue against the award of spousal support to a spouse who has a history of domestic violence.
If enough evidence of the domestic violence can be offered to the court, the victim can attempt to convince the court not to award spousal support to an abusive party. When domestic violence charges or allegations exist, the matter of spousal support can be even more complicated than is expected.
Get in touch with an experienced California divorce attorney at The Maggio Law Firm, so you have an advocate on your side. We understand how to argue for or against spousal support in cases involving domestic violence.