Spousal support is a difficult legal issue — just talking about spousal support is unpleasant. No matter how one may feel about spousal support, it comes up in divorce cases. Although not all divorces involve spousal support, there are those that do, and the person who may be ordered to pay must be prepared to budget for this possibility. It is important to see a lawyer to understand if you will have to pay spousal support, and if so, how much and for how long. Spousal support may be the biggest financial obligation you will incur in your life.
To establish spousal support, there must be a court case. Spousal support can be ordered in a divorce case, a legal separation case, or in a domestic violence restraining order case. A court has broad discretion to decide how much you will pay and for how long. Temporary spousal support may be ordered while your divorce case is pending. When your divorce case is final, the court may award “permanent” spousal support. Contrary to popular belief, “permanent” spousal support is not permanent. According to California family law, the court looks at many different factors to decide how much post-divorce spousal support payments should be and how long the payments should last. Ultimately, the court understands that spousal support should not and will not last forever. The supported spouse should become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. The supported spouse should be making efforts to move from receiving support payments to becoming self-supporting.
While spousal support is meant to help the spouse who either was not working or was out of work for a long time, spousal support is often abused. On the other hand, spouses who have to pay spousal support play games in order to avoid their obligations. If you will be paying spousal support, you want to make sure you will not be paying more than what you have to. If you will be receiving spousal support, you want to make sure that you will receive what is fair.
If you are going through divorce and you will be paying or receiving spousal support, I encourage you to contact my office to understand your rights.