Spousal support is a specified amount of money per month that the court orders one spouse to pay another.
Temporary spousal support is support paid when a divorce is pending, prior to the trial date. Permanent spousal support is an order to pay support as a result of the divorce settlement. “Permanent” in this case doesn’t mean that spousal support lasts forever. When the spouse receiving child support becomes self-supportive, or remarries, the court usually no longer requires spousal support.
Two types of marriages are considered when determining spousal support:
- Short term marriages
- Long term marriages – generally marriages lasting 10 years or more, measured from the date of marriage to the separation date. The court retains jurisdiction over spousal support until death, or until the spouse remarries.
The judge reviews a number of factors when determining whether permanent spousal support is justified and if so, arriving at the payment amount. Generally in gauging spousal support, the standard of living during the marriage and length of marriage is weighed against the spouse’s ability to become self-supportive.
More specifically, based on the California Family Code, a number of factors reviewed include:
- Marketable skills of the spouse receiving support based on:
- The available job market
- Time and expense for education or training
- Retraining for more marketable skills or employment:
- Time unemployed because of domestic duties
- Time and effort spent contributing the education, training, career position or licensing of the supporting spouse
- The ability to pay based on earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
- Both parties needs based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
- Obligations, assets and separate property of each.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Capability of employment while caring for dependent children.
- The age and health of the parties.
- The immediate specific tax consequences to each party.
- The balance of the hardships to each party.
- Reasonable time for supported spouse to become self-supporting. (A reasonable period of time generally shall be 1/2 the length of the marriage.)
The issue of spousal support is quite complex. Each party has a unique set of circumstances that require a different application of the law. If you are contemplating divorce or going through the process, we suggest you seek legal counsel when addressing the issue of spousal support.