One of the most unsettling parts of a divorce is figuring out how both spouses are going to support themselves as single people.
In many California households, one spouse earns more money than the other—often considerably more. That may have worked well while they were married, but it's usually not ideal during a separation or divorce. The courts want to make sure that after a divorce, both parties are able to live in the same relative comfort they did while married. This is where spousal support comes in to the picture.
Factors That San Francisco Spousal Support Judges Consider
In considering a request for spousal support, also known as alimony, your judge is going to look at many different pieces of your lives and past relationship together. Keep in mind that if you are only looking for temporary spousal support while your divorce proceedings are ongoing, your judge will probably just use a general formula to calculate the amount.
On the other hand, if you're looking for spousal support to continue after the divorce has been finalized, the judge will consider all the factors specified under by the state legislature in Section 4320 of the California Family Code. Those rules will require the court to determine:
- The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage
- The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party
- Whether the supporting party is able to pay spousal support based on their earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- If there is any documented history of domestic violence
- Whether or not working will interfere with caring for dependent children
- Whether a spouse's career was affected by unemployment or staying home to care for the children or their home
Of course, San Francisco divorce attorneys for each spouse will be able to ask the judge to assign each of these points a different relative importance. If you and your spouse can agree on a mutually acceptable alimony plan, the court will usually omit holding a hearing on spousal support and adopt your plan into the final divorce orders. Otherwise, the judge will do her best to make sure both spouses will have enough money to move on with their lives and live in the manner they have grown accustomed to during their marriage in the San Francisco area.
People—and Their Needs—Change After a Divorce
Spousal support is intended to help you make the transition from married life to single life. It's not necessarily meant to be a permanent situation. Generally, if you were married less than ten years, you will be entitled to spousal support for up to half of the time you were married. So, if you were married six years, you will probably be able to receive spousal support for three years.
If you were married ten years or more, spousal support doesn't usually have a definite end date. This doesn't mean it will last forever, but it does remain ongoing until one spouse doesn't need it anymore or one spouse can't pay it anymore.
In the years after a divorce, former spouses gain new interests, new employment prospects, and new opportunities. If there has been a significant change in life circumstances, then there may also be justification to modify California alimony payments (Link to Spousal Support PA BLOG). Your San Francisco spousal support lawyer can assist you in returning to court to modify the alimony schedule.
Rely on Our Alimony Lawyer in San Francisco
At the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan, we handle many different parts of family law in California: divorce, child custody, child support, and spousal support. We would be pleased to speak with you about any of these areas that you may need help with. The family court system in San Francisco can get very confusing and there's no reason why you should have to handle these very important personal affairs on your own.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today by calling 415-341-1144.