SPOUSAL SUPPORT ATTORNEY IN LONG BEACH, CA
Spousal support is often the most contested issue in the dissolution of marriage action. The discrepancy of incomes during the marriage leads to a request for spousal support as the needy spouse argues that without support s/he is unable to maintain the marital standard of living. In cases of a stay-at-home spouse, the need for support is even greater since usually, the employment gap caused by child-rearing is substantial.
WHO OWES A DUTY OF SUPPORT IN LONG BEACH, CA?
In California, as a general rule, spouses and registered domestic partners, who are living together owe each other a duty of support. While spouses or registered domestic partners live together, they may not waiver the support duty. It cannot be contracted away or waived. Premarital agreements can handle support issues, however, they must meet strict statutory requirements and enforcement standards.
CAN A SPOUSE OR A DOMESTIC PARTNER BRING A SUPPORT ACTION WHILE STILL MARRIED?
A spouse (or a domestic partner) may bring an action to enforce the duty of spousal support while the parties remain married.
IN A DIVORCE ACTION, CAN A SPOUSE FILE A REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY SUPPORT AT THE OUTSET?
Yes. The court may award temporary support while the dissolution action is pending. Many Requests for Orders (RFOs) are filed together with or shortly after the initial filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.
WHAT IS TEMPORARY SUPPORT BASED ON LONG BEACH, CA?
The purpose of temporary spousal support is to maintain the marital standard of living while the dissolution of marriage action is pending. The court does not have to consider (but may) Fam. Code Section 4320 factors in deciding temporary support. The amount of temporary support is solely within the court’s discretion and it is broadly based on need and ability to pay. Often, it is decided using standardized support guideline software known as disaster.
The needy spouse may move for temporary spousal support at the very outset of the proceedings by filing a Request for Order.
WHAT IS PERMANENT SUPPORT BASED ON?
To award permanent spousal support, the court must consider; and weigh factors contained in Fam. C. Section 4320. It is an abuse of discretion for the court to at that point consider the DissMaster software calculation.
The court weighs the factors differently in each case depending on the circumstances of each case. The marital standard of living is a reference point for the court. The court generally takes the marital standard of living to refer to a general station of life. It is considered in light of the earning capacities of the spouses. To determine the earning capacities if the spouse is not working or working below his/her capacity, the court often appoints a vocational examination.
One of the factors that the court considers in awarding spousal support is the need of the requesting spouse. It is improper for the court to consider the requesting spouse’s alleged expenses only without balancing the other factors. Actual marital expenses must be used instead of expenses that the requesting spouses propose as his/her wishes.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN LONG BEACH, CA?
The goal of spousal support is self-sufficiency. The supporting spouse must become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time usually means half the length of the marriage except for long-term marriage of 10 years and over. However, the court has the discretion to make that period longer or shorter. In a long-term marriage, the goal is still self-sufficiency, but the period of time is much longer, if not indefinite if appropriate.
The length of marriage impacts both the need for support and the amount and duration of the order. In marriages over 10 years, the court has no discretion to terminate spousal support jurisdiction unless the parties agree to terminate jurisdiction. Some marriages that are shorter than 10 years can still be considered to be marriages of “long duration” depending of several factors.
In setting permanent spousal support the court cannot use the temporary support amount as a benchmark. Instead, the court must consider all the section 4320 factors as though it was a new case. The court also cannot use any guideline support to set permanent support.
CAN A SPOUSE THAN COMMITTED AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST THE OTHER SPOUSE RECEIVE SPOUSAL SUPPORT?
In 2019, the law regarding domestic violence and rebuttable presumptions regarding alimony awards changed. The California Family Code used to state that someone convicted of sexual domestic violence was prohibited from receiving alimony, while non-sexual domestic violence convictions would lead to a rebuttable presumption against alimony.
The current law is as follows:
- Spouses convicted of a domestic violence felony offense – sexual or not – is banned from receiving spousal support
- Spouses convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor will have a rebuttable presumption against spousal support
CAN SPOUSAL SUPPORT BE AWARDED IN A DVPA RESTRAINING ORDER IN LONG BEACH, CA?
Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) proceeding is another type of action where the court can order spousal support even if there is no pending divorce case. The court in those cases may order spousal support even before it finds that the spouse has been abused. The court cannot, however, award support to the responding party in a DVPA proceeding. If the respondent is seeking support, s/he must file a dissolution of marriage, nullity, or legal separation action. In default cases, the court cannot order spousal support unless it was requested on the petition.
IS EVIDENCE OF FAULT ALLOWED TO PROVE THE NEED FOR SUPPORT IN LONG BEACH, CA?
In California, spousal support is not generally affected by evidence of fault. Exceptions include:
- no support may be awarded to a spouse convicted of attempted murder of their spouse
- no support may be awarded to a spouse convicted of a violent sexual felony
- presumption against support award to a spouse convicted of interspousal/child domestic violence
Evidence of “fault” does come up in cases where:
- the supporting spouse is intentionally not earning up to his/her capacity
- the spouse requesting support failed to make a reasonable good faith effort to become self-supporting
- the spouse seeking support has mismanaged income-producing assets
- the custodial parent in an international move-away case has frustrated the other parent’s visitation rights under a California order
- there is a history of domestic violence and/or criminal conviction of an abusive spouse