Under Family Code § 4300, a person has an obligation to support the person’s spouse. This obligation exists during the marriage. This obligation also continues to exist after the spouses separate or divorce, unless and until the duty is terminated either by the court or by an agreement between the spouses.
The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that each spouse has the financial means to maintain a standard of living that is comparable to the standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the marriage. One principal social policy underlying the statutory duty to support ones’ spouse is to ensure that spouses are not put in a position where they have to rely or resort to public welfare as a result of the separation or divorce. It also bears to note that the spouse receiving spousal support is required to take necessary steps to become self-supporting within a reasonable time.
Spousal support cases involve difficult legal issues. Call the attorneys at Ihejirika Law Corporation to discuss and assist you with your matter.
TEMPORARY SPOUSAL SUPPORT
During the period when a divorce, legal separation or annulment case between the spouses is pending in court, the court may order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. This is temporary spousal support.
In most cases, the spouse with the greater income or assets bears the liability of paying temporary spousal support to the other spouse. The spouse that pays support to the other spouse is called the spousal support obligor; and the spouse that receives support from the other spouse is called the spousal support obligee.
Temporary spousal support amount is calculated using a guideline spousal support formula (which varies from county to county) that takes several factors into consideration, including (1) the respective gross income and tax attributes of each party; (2) each spouses mandatory payroll deductions; (3) whether the obligor spouse has other child or spousal support obligations; etc.
It is important to understand that if you are the spouse seeking spousal support, the court cannot award you spousal support until you ask the court for it. It is also important to understand that if you are the party against whom spousal support is sought, and you fail to properly and adequately respond to a petition or motion for spousal support that you have been served with, it is likely that the court will grant spousal support to the party asking for it, and the support amount may turn out to be ridiculously excessive. Therefore, whether you are the spouse seeking to get spousal support, or the spouse from whom spousal support is being requested, it is of vital importance that you call the attorneys at Ihejirika Law Corporation to discuss and assist you with your matter.
PERMANENT SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Permanent Spousal Support is the spousal support order that is made by the court when it issues a final judgment at the end of the case. When permanent spousal support is being determined, the court does not use a formula. Rather, the judge is required by law to consider several factors, including the length of the marriage; each spouse’s needs based on the marital standard of living; each spouse’s earnings and earning capacity; each spouse’s age, health, debts and property; whether getting a job would make it too hard to care of the children; whether one spouse helped the other get an education, training, career, or professional license; whether one spouse’s career was adversely affected due to taking care of the children or home; whether there was domestic violence in the marriage; the tax impact of spousal support; and any other factor that the court thinks is just and equitable.
The issue of permanent spousal support is a very important issue because when the court makes an order awarding permanent spousal support, the order can be for a specific period of time or for an indefinite period of time, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Because permanent spousal support can run for long periods of time, the total amount of money involved can sometimes be very huge. Therefore, whether you are the spouse seeking to get spousal support, or the spouse from whom spousal support is being requested, it is of vital importance that you call the attorneys at Ihejirika Law Corporation to discuss and assist you with your matter.
MODIFYING OR TERMINATING SPOUSAL SUPPORT
At any time after a spousal support order has been made by the court, either spouse or party may seek to have the court increase or decrease the amount of ordered spousal support or to terminate the spousal support order, if the circumstance of either spouse has changed significantly, resulting in either the supported party having a reduced or zero need for support, or the supporting spouse having a reduced ability to pay. To ask for a change in the support amount, there needs to be a “change in circumstances.” Here are some examples of significant change in circumstances that warrant modification of support:
(1) The party receiving support now earns more money; or
(2) The party receiving support now earns less money; or
(3) The party receiving support has not made a good faith effort to become self-supporting; or
(4) The party paying support now earns more money; or
(5) The party paying support now earns less money; or
(6) The party paying support is now permanently or temporarily unemployed; or
(7) The party paying support now has additional dependents that he or she needs to support; or
(8) The party receiving support now lives with a significant other;
(9) The party receiving support has remarried or entered into a registered domestic partnership; etc.
IMPORTANT! -If you are the person paying spousal support, it is very IMPORTANT that you understand that even if your situation has changed, you will still owe the full support amount stated in your current court order until you apply to the court to get the order changed. For example, if after you lose your job or suffer a reduction of income you wait for 4 months before seeking to change your spousal or partner support order, you will owe spousal support for the 4 months you delayed.
It is also important to understand that unpaid spousal support obligations (spousal support arrears) accrue interest at the legal rate of 10% per year.
IMPORTANT! -If you are the person receiving spousal support, it is very IMPORTANT that you understand that even if the other party’s income has increased significantly, you will still only receive the support amount stated in your current court order until you apply to the court to increase the amount.
THEREFORE, if there has been a significant change in your circumstance or the circumstance of the other party, such that you believe that your court ordered spousal support should be changed to your advantage, it is of vital importance that you call the attorneys at Ihejirika Law Corporation to discuss and assist you with your matter.