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Making Spousal Support Easier—Tips for Handling a Spousal Support Case

Spousal support battles are frequently one of the most contentious parts of divorces. The outcome of a spousal support case can significantly impact the financial stability of all parties involved, and receiving an inequitable spousal support judgment can be a devastating economic blow.

Today, we're giving you our best tips for navigating the spousal support process so you can confidently pursue a positive outcome in the courtroom.

Understanding Spousal Support in California

To keep it short and sweet, there are two basic kinds of spousal support in California: temporary, and long-term/permanent:

Temporary spousal support is that paid during the pendency of a dissolution. The goal of temporary support is to maintain the status quo while the parties work to resolve the other issues in the divorce.

Long-term or permanent spousal support. This is support payable after a divorce case has been finalized. In some situations, there is no set end-date and in others, if a party can prove that the other will be self-supporting at a specific time, the support may reduce to zero on a date certain. The point of long term spousal support is to enable both parties to live as closely as possible to the marital standard of living given a variety of factors, including the ability of the supporting party to pay support and the needs of the supported party, among many others.

Spousal support is most generally based on the standard of living established during the marriage. The court takes a variety of factors into account when determining spousal support, including but not limited to:

  • The impact of a proposed spousal support arrangement on each party's finances;
  • Whether spousal support would allow each party to maintain the same quality of life post-divorce that they enjoyed while married;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The supported party’s marketable skills, the market for those skills, and how difficult it would be to attain a job within that market given the right education and training (if needed);
  • The earning capacity of the supporting party;
  • The age and health of both parties;
  • Whether the supported party suffered from domestic violence at the hands of the supporting party;
  • Whether the court issued a protective order during the case;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The obligations and assets, including separate assets, owned by each party.

Tips for Navigating Your Spousal Support Case

Applying the following tips to your spousal support case can help you navigate your case more easily:

  • Consider smaller payments over a longer period of time. It may run contrary to your intuition, but "budgeting" spousal support may be a better decision in the long run. If a party gets married or their financial circumstances change, it can affect or terminate the spousal support arrangement. Choosing longer-term spousal support arrangements can actually help the payor spend less on spousal support while still supporting the recipient.
  • Take advantage of a financial professional. Whether you're a spousal support payor or recipient, a financial professional like an accountant can be an invaluable asset in spousal support cases. They can help you put together a comprehensive argument for an equitable spousal support arrangement, and save you money in the long run.
  • Set grounds for modification or termination. Divorce-related court orders like child custody and spousal support arrangements are rarely good forever. As circumstances change, so should your spousal support arrangement. Speak with your lawyer and a financial professional to get a forecast on what the next five to ten years of your life might look like financially. Using that information, come up with some terms or "triggers" that can result in the termination or modification of your spousal support arrangement.
  • Focus on compromise. The last thing you want to end up in is an ever-escalating spousal support battle with your ex. Trying to come up with an equitable, mutually beneficial solution will prop you up in the court's eyes and probably benefit you at the end of the day.

Spousal support cases can be daunting, but with the right lawyer at your side, you can work towards an equitable, mutually beneficial arrangement with your soon-to-be-ex.

To schedule a consultation with an experienced spousal support lawyer, contact us online or via phone at (949) 229-8546.