San Diego Spousal Support Attorney

In many marriages, there is a disparity of income between spouses. In some instances, one spouse will forego working outside the home to take care of household obligations. It is not surprising that during a divorce in San Diego, a spouse who earns less than their partner will raise concerns about their ability to provide for themselves.

In such instances, a skilled San Diego spousal support attorney can ask the Court to enter an order requiring the higher-earning party to pay spousal support to their former spouse. A request for spousal support (also known as alimony) could potentially impact the rights and obligations of both parties. It is important for anyone involved in a San Diego divorce to understand how a spousal support order works.

If you have questions regarding spousal support, contact a knowledgeable San Diego spousal support lawyer at Doppelt and Forney APLC today. Our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers can explain more about your potential right to receive spousal support or your possible obligation to pay alimony.

What are the Potential Types and Length of Spousal Support?

California Family Code §4320 describes the factors a court can consider when deciding if spousal support is appropriate. A dedicated San Diego divorce lawyer will know which factors apply to your situation and how to present the strongest evidence to prove your case.

If the court decides alimony is warranted, it can order these payments for different lengths of time. For example, a spouse may be ordered to pay permanent alimony for the rest of their life or for the life of their former spouse.

What is Temporary Spousal Support in San Diego?

In some cases, temporary spousal support might be required for a specific timeframe. Typically, a party will request temporary spousal support while their divorce is pending and before a final judgment is entered. If the Court orders temporary alimony, the paying spouse will typically owe the receiving spouse alimony until the divorce becomes final or another order is entered.

Essentially, the goal of temporary spousal support is to help the receiving party pay for their living expenses until the Court divides and distributes any community property. At that time, the court can assess what amount of permanent spousal support would be appropriate under California family law.

What is Permanent Spousal Support?

Permanent spousal support is set in the final divorce judgment and will usually only end if the party receiving alimony remarries, dies, or a motion to modify is filed by either party.

In many cases, the Courts will order a party to pay temporary and/or permanent spousal support until the party receiving the support is financially independent. In other words, the spouse receiving support may need to seek employment, go back to school, or otherwise obtain the skills necessary to earn an income sufficient to support themselves. Once they are self-sufficient, alimony payments will end.

Common Grounds for Awarding Spousal Support in San Diego

In California, support obligations can arise under multiple circumstances. For example, a couple in the process of ending their marriage may agree to alimony and put the terms into a written agreement. As long as their agreement is properly prepared and executed, the court will most likely approve it.

When a Prenuptial Agreement Establishes Spousal Support

In some cases, spousal support obligations arise out of prenuptial agreements. Sometimes, a party objects to their pre-marital agreement by claiming that the terms are unconscionable during a divorce. While courts will generally enforce prenuptial agreements if they were executed according to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), the agreement may be unenforceable if the court finds it is unfair.

For example, if the "agreement" was obtained through fraud or duress or entered into without full disclosure of each party's assets and liabilities, the prenuptial may not be enforced. Judges may also choose to overturn agreements that leave a party without sufficient financial resources or unfairly favor one spouse. Family Law Code Section 1615 contains factors the court can use to determine if the pre-nuptial agreement will be enforced or set aside. This is a very complex area of the law.

If There is No Prior Alimony Agreement

Absent an agreement between the parties, a court can order one spouse to pay alimony if, after considering all relevant circumstances, spousal support payments are warranted. Courts may consider multiple factors when evaluating whether spousal support is appropriate.

For instance, a judge may examine the age, earning potential, and mental and physical health of each party. They will also usually look at the financial assets of each spouse and the standard of living the couple enjoyed while they were married. Courts will also look at whether one party is the primary caregiver for minor children born of the marriage. Also, if one spouse assisted the other with advancing their career or education, leading to unequal financial gains, the spouse with greater earning potential may owe alimony.

Finally, courts can consider the paying spouse's ability to provide financial support and whether either party has engaged in acts that would constitute domestic violence. In determining whether to issue an order granting spousal support, courts will often examine the parties' financial records, tax returns, employment records, and, if their health is a concern, their health records.

How Does the Court Calculate Alimony?

For prejudgment alimony [temporary spousal support], the court has the discretion to use the Disso Master Program or the Family Law Code §4320 factors. For post-judgment spousal support orders and/or orders that modify permanent spousal support, the Court cannot use the Disso Master and must use the Family Law Code §4320 factors.

Determining alimony can be a very complex analysis. If you have questions regarding whether or how spousal support applies to your unique circumstance, reach out to the San Diego spousal support attorneys at Doppalt and Fornay today.

Modification of Spousal Support Orders in San Diego

In many instances, spousal support obligations can last for years. As situations can change over time, what was initially an appropriate support obligation may become unsuitable. California law permits either party subject to a spousal support order to request an alimony modification unless there is a prior order that the spousal support is non-modifiable. Generally, a party seeking a modification of an existing support order must show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.

So, what may be considered a change in circumstances that could warrant a spousal support modification?

Some of the factors that may justify modifying alimony include:

  • An increase or decrease in either party's income
  • A change in employment, including retirement
  • A newly developed health issue
  • The remarriage of the party receiving support

Courts may also consider whether the party receiving support refuses to become self-supporting or whether either party has voluntarily reduced their income to impact their financial situation.

Trust the Experienced California Spousal Support Attorneys at Doppelt and Forney to Protect Your Rights

Divorce Lawyers Doppelt Forney

If you or your estranged spouse are considering spousal support as part of your divorce action, it is in your best interest to work with a lawyer who will fight to protect your interests.

At Doppelt and Forney APLC, our experienced San Diego divorce attorneys help our clients pursue the best possible outcomes in an efficient manner, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf.

Contact us through our online form or call us at (858) 312-8500 to set up a free and confidential meeting.