Spousal Support

When determining spousal support in California, there are two main issues to be considered by the court and all parties. One is the amount of support to be awarded and two is the duration of support.

The family courts of California have a lot of discretion when it comes to determining how long a person will have to pay spousal support. As a general rule of thumb which does not have to be followed by the court, marriages of less than ten years will have to have spousal support paid for half the length of the marriage. For marriages of more than ten years, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long the court will decide spousal support is necessary.

Starting in the late 1990s, though, there was a trend among courts for spousal support’s duration to be linked to a transition period from married life to single life. The courts started not liking lifetime support.

In addition to their wide amount of discretion concerning the duration of spousal support, the courts have a lot of say in how much spousal support needs to be paid each month. In an attempt to lessen the court’s discretion, many counties have adopted guidelines that outline acceptable spousal support payments. These are still only guidelines that set a range, not set rules.

There are a variety of statutes for the courts to consider when determining spousal support. They need to consider:

  • The earning capacity of individuals. This is used to determine whether or not the parties will each be able to maintain the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage.
  • The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license for the supporting party. As an example, if the husband footed the entire bill for his wife’s medical school education and then stopped working to stay at home with the kids while his wife worked, that needs to be taken into consideration.
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to pay spousal support
  • The needs of each party as established by the standard of living during the marriage
  • The financial obligations and assets of each party
  • Duration of the marriage

If you are considering a divorce or are in the middle of a fight over spousal support, contact the San Diego divorce lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel at 760-722-7646.

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San Diego Family Law Blog

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