California Spousal Support Basics

If you are headed for divorce and you live in Encino or anywhere else in the San Fernando Valley, you will want to know how the state handles matters pertaining to spousal support. Will you receive spousal support, or will you be ordered to pay spousal support? If spousal support is awarded in your divorce, how long will it last?

To help you better understand California’s spousal support laws, we are going to shed some light on the subject. If you have further questions regarding spousal support, don’t hesitate to contact our firm to speak with an experienced member of our legal team.

Is spousal support automatic?
No, spousal support is not automatically awarded in a California divorce. Spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis. It often comes down to a spouse’s need for spousal support, and the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay support.

Can a spouse receive spousal support if they work?
Yes, a spouse can receive spousal support, even if they work full time. This is especially the case if the lower-earning spouse is underemployed or earns significantly less than the higher-earning spouse. For instance, if one spouse earns $100k a year and the other spouse earns $25k a year, there is a good chance spousal support will be ordered.

Does cheating affect spousal support?
While adultery affects spousal support in some states, that is not the case in California. As a no-fault divorce state, the family courts are not concerned with “why” a marriage is over; all that matters is that the marriage has ended. So, cheating is not a factor when a court is deciding whether or to award spousal support.

Can a spouse receive temporary support?
Yes, it is possible for the courts to make orders for temporary spousal support while the divorce case is still pending. Once the divorce is finalized, the spousal support can be incorporated into the final divorce judgement.

Is spousal support tax deductible?
Spousal support is tax deductible for the paying spouse, and it is counted as taxable income for the receiving spouse.

How long does spousal support last?
In California, spousal support is typically ordered for one-half the length of the marriage. For example, if a marriage lasted eight years, spousal support will be ordered for four years. There is an exception for marriages of a long duration that lasted ten or more years. In long marriages, the spousal support may be ordered indefinitely.

When does spousal support end?
Spousal support ends when any of the following occurs: 1) the court order says that it ends, 2) either spouse dies, or 3) the receiving spouse remarries or enters a domestic partnership.

Can spousal support be changed?
Yes, it is possible to have spousal support payments changed; this process is called a “modification.” In order to modify your spousal support payments (upward or downward), you must be able to show the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances, which warrant a change in support.

Need an Encino divorce attorney? Contact Cutter & Lax, Attorneys at Law to discuss your case with a board certified family law specialist.