Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

Divorce often raises complicated issues that may significantly impact your financial situation. One of the most challenging aspects of dissolving a marriage is determining whether you qualify for spousal support or if you will have to pay it.

If you have questions about financial obligations between divorced spouses, a knowledgeable Simi Valley spousal support lawyer can answer them. Local family law attorneys are well-versed in state laws governing spousal maintenance and could work toward a fair support award in your case.

Understanding Spousal Maintenance in Simi Valley

Also called spousal maintenance, spousal support is the court-ordered obligation of a higher-earning spouse (the “payor”) to pay a specific amount to a lower-earning spouse (the “payee”) to assist them financially after divorce. The goal is to enable the payee to maintain a similar lifestyle to what the parties enjoyed during their marriage.

Under state law, a judge is not required to award spousal support in every divorce case, meaning they have broad discretion. Spousal maintenance orders are legally binding on both parties, so it is vital for anyone facing a divorce in Simi Valley to seek assistance from a knowledgeable attorney.

Factors to Consider when Determining Spousal Support

Judges generally have significant discretion when determining whether and how much support a spouse should receive after their divorce and how long it should last. However, the law does provide specific factors for a court to consider when ruling on a spouse’s request for maintenance. Under California Family Code §4320, these include:

  • The ability of proposed payor to pay support
  • The financial needs of both parties
  • Whether the party seeking support assisted in the other’s education and career advancement
  • Whether the individual seeking support took time off from their career to raise the couple’s children
  • Each party’s age and health
  • How long it may take for the spouse seeking maintenance to become self-supporting

While these factors do not require a judge to award a specific amount of spousal support, they do play a significant role in the court’s final decision. Before requesting maintenance, a spouse may benefit from a discussion with a seasoned attorney in Simi Valley.

Length of Spousal Support

State law favors spousal support awards that enable a spouse to transition from married life to independent living within a reasonable time. Therefore, Simi Valley courts generally do not grant ‘permanent’ maintenance. For marriages that lasted less than 10 years, the law presumes that spousal support should last for one-half of the marriage’s length.

If a couple’s marriage exceeded 10 years, a judge may not set a future date for the termination of support. Instead, the court will assess each party’s financial circumstances and determine whether spousal maintenance should stop in the future or continue without a fixed end date.

Even if a judge orders indefinite spousal support, one or both spouses can request a modification if their financial circumstances change. For example, if the payee attains a high-paying job and no longer needs spousal support, a judge could terminate it. If a spouse is concerned about receiving sufficient maintenance to meet their expenses or about paying too much spousal support, a knowledgeable attorney in Simi Valley could assist them.

Temporary Spousal Support Orders

In most cases, a party requests spousal maintenance as soon as they file for divorce. Known as ‘temporary spousal support orders,’ a judge may grant this type of financial assistance to help a spouse meet their expenses while their divorce is pending. The court may use a computer program to determine the temporary support amount, although they are not bound by the amount recommended by the program.

Impact of Remarriage or Cohabitation on Spousal Maintenance in Simi Valley

Court-ordered spousal support generally terminates when the payee remarries or ‘cohabitates’ with another person. To qualify as cohabitation, the payee must be in a romantic relationship or partnership arrangement with a member of their household.

Depending on the language of the spousal support order, the payor’s obligation may not automatically lessen or terminate upon the other spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation. If this situation arises, a capable attorney could request a reduction or termination of spousal maintenance on the payor’s behalf.

Consult a Spousal Support Attorney in Simi Valley to Learn More

If you are concerned about the financial impact of a spousal maintenance award, teaming up with a trusted local attorney could be a critical step in protecting your interests. Compassionate Simi Valley spousal support lawyers understand the uncertainty you face in a divorce and could work to ensure that a maintenance award meets your needs. Get in touch today.

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