Davis Spousal Support Lawyers Representing Northern California
- Pakpour Banks is based in Davis, CA, and is proudly serving Davis, Woodland, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield, Roseville, Elk Grove, and surrounding areas.
- Our team has been successfully representing cases in Yolo County, Sacramento County, Solano County, Placer County, Colusa County, El Dorado County, and Yuba County.
Pakpour Banks LLP provides legal services to individuals involved in spousal support disputes. If you’re hoping to receive support, your lawyer can help explain your needs and secure the support you deserve. If your ex-spouse has asked for support, we will help ensure that you are not paying more than the law demands. Our experienced Davis spousal support attorneys are here to help ensure that your partner support order remains fair and equitable. We can help you negotiate solutions that will work best for you after your separation and divorce.
During marriage, spouses have a duty to support one another, under the California Family Code. That duty may continue once spouses separate, depending on the circumstances of the case.
When Do Courts Order Spousal Support?
In some circumstances, a person can establish that they were financially reliant on their spouse. California law offers measures to ensure that they are not left penniless by a divorce. The law historically referred to spousal support as alimony. No matter the term, the spouse with a higher income will pay money to the financially disadvantaged spouse (i.e., the spouse with a lower income). Spousal support is not a right, nor does the law guarantee an amount of partner support. The divorcing couple can decide on an amount, or if they cannot agree, the court will decide what is fair.
California is a no-fault divorce state. The court cannot consider the behavior of either spouse during the marriage or after separation in setting spousal support. Therefore, a court will not order support to punish a spouse for perceived misconduct during the marriage or after separation. Nor will it award support as a reward or consolation prize for tolerating alleged maltreatment. The payment should assist the spouse in maintaining their standard of living after the marriage, including wealth, comfort, and education.
There are two types of spousal support: temporary spousal support pending a final judgment, and spousal support ordered once the judgment has been entered.
Temporary spousal support is, much like child support, very formulaic. During the pendency of any proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may order the husband or wife to pay any amount that is necessary for the support of the wife or husband. (See California Family Code section 3600). Each county computes a “guideline” temporary spousal support amount based upon the party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. (See In re Marriage of Winter, 7 Cal. App. 4th 1926, 1932 (1992)). The purpose is to “maintain the living conditions and standards of the parties in as close to the status quo position as possible pending trial and the division of their assets and obligations.” Subject only to the general “need” and “ability to pay,” the amount of temporary spousal support lies within the court’s sound discretion. Courts typically refer to “Guidelines” in an effort to determine temporary spousal support. The use of such guidelines has been held to be a valuable tool in calculating temporary support. (See In re Marriage of Wittgrove, 120 Cal. App. 4th 1317, 1327-28 (2004)).
Post-Judgment Spousal Support
Post-judgment spousal support is determined using an entirely different model. California Family Code section 4320 covers 14 different factors the court must consider before ordering support. These include – but are not limited to – how much each party is able to maintain the pre-separation standard of living, how much one party contributed to the other’s education or career, the duration of the marriage, and the ability of either party to support him or herself.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
How long spousal support will be ordered may depend upon the length of the marriage. While it is not a law, attorneys and judges often differentiate between “long-term” and “short-term” marriages. Marriages over 10 years are considered by many to be long-term marriages, while marriages lasting fewer than 10 years are considered to be short-term marriages. For short-term marriages (those lasting less than 10 years), post-judgment support is typically ordered to be paid for a time equal to half the life of the marriage. For long-term marriages, post-judgment support is typically ordered to be paid until either spouse dies, the supported spouse remarries, or upon order of the court. Note: these are general impressions. In other words, there is no law dictating this duration.
Can My Ex and I Reach an Agreement for Spousal Support?
Spousal support orders can take on myriad shapes and forms when the parties come to an agreement on the amount, duration, etc., before trial. For example, parties can agree to a “step-down” arrangement, where support is decreased over several intervals of time.
The divorce order can also contain contingencies for ending spousal support. Typically, spousal support terminates if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits.
Can Spousal Support Be Changed?
The court has the authority to modify the support order if either party’s financial condition changes significantly. If the circumstances have altered enough to warrant a modification, either party may request that the court review the support order. The court may consider changed circumstances such as
- The parties’ minor child has reached the age of majority and left home,
- Child support ended,
- Child custody changed significantly (by court order or agreement), or
- One of the parties lost their employment.
You may also request a modification if the spouse receiving the support no longer needs it. For example, if the ex-spouse is living with a new partner but refusing to marry or has taken a new job.
What If My Ex-Spouse Refuses to Work?
There is nothing you can do to make your ex-spouse or domestic partner work. You can, however, petition the court to reduce the assistance they are receiving if they are not making an effort to find work. If you can show that your ex is purposefully not working, the court may estimate what your ex might make and base your support obligation on that imputed income. In this case, the judge may reduce your support requirement.
How Are Spousal Support Orders Enforced?
When a court requires a spouse to pay post-judgment spousal support, they must follow the court’s directions. Failure to pay spousal support is a breach of a family court order with substantial legal ramifications. A court can find that a spouse is capable of paying support but fails to do so. In that case, the court can place the spouse in “contempt of court” and issue an arrest warrant. Courts typically use this as a final option when all other enforcement mechanisms have failed.
Pakpour Banks LLP: Davis Spousal Support Lawyers
Whether you seek temporary spousal support or your ex-spouse has requested long-term spousal support, you deserve to have experienced California spousal support lawyers on your side. We have helped with many complex divorce cases. Divorcing individuals deserve to have spousal support determined fairly and equitably. Without an attorney to help you understand your rights, the other party might be able to bully you into accepting less than you deserve. The lawyers at Pakpour Banks LLP won’t let anyone bully you. Call us today, and we will be there to support you throughout your divorce or separation.