Los Angeles Spousal Support Lawyer
Divorce Lawyers in the San Fernando Valley Representing the Rights of Individuals To Obtain Spousal Support
When two people are married, they establish a standard of living that is generally based on their household income. In some cases, one spouse may contribute significantly more to that income than the other while the other spouse manages the household or engages in full-time child care. In these circumstances, it is often the case that the lesser-earning party made the conscious decision to forgo pursuing a career or actively supported the higher-earning spouse when he or she was attending school or otherwise developing skills to provide financially for the family.
California courts award often award spousal support to the spouse with less income in order to allow them to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Alternatively, spouses may come to an agreement regarding spousal support on their own or it may be controlled by the terms of a premarital agreement. Whatever the case may be, as an individual who is going through a divorce, it is important to be aware of the fact that judges have broad discretion to award spousal support under California law and may even choose to ignore a prenuptial agreement with regard to support if they find the terms unconscionable. For this reason, it is critical for anyone seeking spousal support or wishes to minimize the amount they will have to pay to retain a skilled Los Angeles divorce attorney as soon as possible.
California Spousal Support Factors
There are a number of factors that a court will consider when deciding whether and how much spousal support to award. Some of the factors that may be considered include the following:
- Duration of the marriage
- The contributions toward the marital standard of living
- Earning capacities of both spouses
- Whether working full-time would interfere with childcare
- The health and age of both spouses
- Property and debts of the marriage
- Whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, professional license, or career
- Whether one spouse forewent education or a career to care for the children
- Incidence of domestic violence in the marriage
Some of these factors have specific issues within them that a judge will consider. For example, for a marriage of fewer than 10 years, spousal support will typically be awarded for half the duration of the marriage. This is because the purpose of spousal support is to give the lesser-earning spouse time to get to the point where he or she will able to be self-sufficient. The duration of the marriage is defined as the time date of the marriage to the date of separation, and a judge may consider any periods of separation that occurred previously in the marriage. Importantly, in long-term marriages (10 years or longer), a judge may not set an end-date when making a spousal support order.
Modification of Spousal Support in California
California law recognizes that circumstances change, and therefore allows either party to a spousal support order to request a change in that order unless the parties have made an agreement to the contrary. In order to have a spousal support order changed, the party seeking the change needs to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the order was imposed. This means that a slight or temporary change in circumstances will typically not justify the modification of a support order. Some examples of changes that may justify a modification include the following:
- Job loss
- A significant raise
- A financial windfall
- Health issues
It is important to understand that judges have significant discretion when deciding whether to modify an existing spousal support order and that both parties will have an opportunity to present evidence in support of their case. An attorney can be of significant help in developing and presenting your case to the judge in a way that he or she will be responsive to. For this reason, anyone seeking to modify a support order should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a Los Angeles Spousal Support Attorney
Spousal support has the potential to have a significant impact on your financial well-being, whether you are the party paying or receiving it. Retaining an experienced Los Angeles spousal support attorney who practices in family law will maximize your chances of obtaining the outcome you want. To schedule a free consultation with one of our divorce lawyers, call our law firm today at 818-528-3471 or contact us online.