LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Gerald Anthony Maggio | Feb 11, 2012

5 THINGS YOU MUST UNDERSTAND ABOUT SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE

  1. California Differentiates Between Short-Term vs. Long-Term Marriages: California law makes a distinction between “short-term" and “long-term" marriages in determining the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support.

  2. A Short-Term Marriage Is One Less Than 10 Years In Duration: For marriages less than 10 years in duration, California law and precedent maintains that the spouse obligated to pay spousal support is obligated to do so for one-half the length of the actual marriage.

  3. A Long-Term Marriage Is 10 Years Or More: For a long-term marriage, 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. So what does this mean? It means that spousal support for a short-term marriage is generally for a fixed period of time. For a marriage over 10 years in duration, it means that spousal support is not necessarily fixed and can be ongoing, and the longer the marriage, the more that spousal support could be permanent.

  4. Temporary Spousal Support vs. Permanent Spousal Support:

  • “Temporary Spousal Support" (also known as “Pendite Lite" spousal support) generally is spousal support awarded while a divorce is pending and not yet finalized. Such temporary spousal support is generally calculated using the Dissomaster/X-Spouse support calculator, much like child support in California is determined.

  • “Permanent Spousal Support" is spousal support beyond the conclusion of a California divorce and is generally determined by the court at trial. Such a determination is substantially more complicated than determining temporary spousal support. To determine the amount of long-term spousal support, the Court must 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. In fact, Family Code section 4320 states the specific factors that the Court has to consider, as follows:

  1. The extent to which each party’s earning capacity is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;

  2. The contributions of the supported party to the paying party’s education, training, career position, or professional license;

  3. The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support;

  4. The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage;

  5. The obligations and asset, including separate property, of each party;

  6. The duration of the marriage;

  7. The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children;

  8. The age and health of the parties;

  9. Any history of domestic violence between the parties;

  10. The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party;

  11. The balance of the hardships to each party;

  12. The goal that the supported party become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (usually one-half the length of the marriage);

  13. Any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse;

  14. Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

  15. Spousal Support Is Tax-Deductible. Spousal support is generally considered under state and Federal law to be tax-deductible to the spouse who is paying such support, and is reportable income to the spouse who receives such income.

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