In any dissolution action, the issues regarding spousal support will be determined. Temporary spousal support may be awarded based on need, ability to pay, and to maintain the status quo during the marriage. It is not always possible to maintain the marital status quo after separation when there are two households to support and maintain.
In longer term marriages, ongoing, or “permanent” spousal support will be determined at the time of settlement or trial. Longer term spousal support is based on a number of factors that the court must consider. Those factors are listed in Family Code Section 4320. Spousal support is generally modifiable, unless designated otherwise by the Parties. There are numerous factors which go into the amount and duration of spousal support. With years of hands-on experience, Linda can assist her clients in understanding the process and arriving at reasonable resolutions.
Some of the factors which go into determining permanent, or ongoing, spousal support are the following:
- Marketable skills of the supported party,;
- Need for retraining so the support party may obtain employment;
- Time out of the workforce to care for children;
- Ability of the supporting party to pay;
- The needs of each party based on the marital standard of living;
- The assets and obligations of each party, including any separate property assets;
- The age and health of the parties;
- Documented evidence of a history of domestic violence between the parties;
- Immediate and specific tax consequences;
- Balance of hardships to each party;
- Criminal conviction of an abusive spouse; and
- Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
In determining the length, or duration, of permanent spousal support, Family Code 4320(l) provides that it is “the goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.” That period of time is generally defined as half the length of the marriage, although that is not a hard and fast rule, especially for long-term marriages lasting 10 years or longer. In those cases, the spousal support may continue for a longer or shorter period than half the length of the marriage.