Los Angeles Spousal Support Lawyer
Simply stated, spousal support is a payment from one spouse to another spouse, for either a defined or undefined period of time, a sum of money which is either fixed or variable, according to the parties' income. Spousal support may be considered as "rehabilitation" of the supported spouse or a "leveling" of financial resources in certain circumstances.
Spousal support is customarily taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the paying party so long as the parties have reduced their "agreement" to a writing which has been signed by a Judge. The parties must also be living "separate and apart" in order to claim the support as a tax deduction. For obvious reasons, it cannot be deducted unless the parties file "separate" tax returns.
Often times, spousal support is stipulated between the parties without the necessity of having to go to court. On other occasions, when one party seeks spousal support and the other party is unwilling to pay, the seeking party must apply to the court for spousal support.
The standards for spousal support vary widely depending upon in which court the party is seeking support, although, the general principals remain the same. Temporary support, which is support ordered while a divorce or legal separation proceeding is pending, is based upon preserving the status quo which existed at the time that the parties separated and is based upon the marital standard of living and various other factors, including the age of the parties, the length of marriage and so on.
Support which is ordered after the marriage has been officially terminated is referred to as "permanent" support. It is only "permanent" however, as distinguished from "temporary," because support which is ordered after the parties' marriage has been formally terminated can either be fixed in duration or undetermined, except that, other than in rare, agreed-upon circumstances, spousal support will automatically terminate at either person's death or the remarriage of the supported spouse.
For marriages of more than ten years, Courts are often reluctant to fix a termination date. California law states that it is inappropriate for a Court to terminate spousal support in a marriage of long duration unless the Court makes specific findings that spousal support is not needed by the supported spouse.
For marriages of less than ten years, Courts often fix termination dates, but are not required to do so.
As to those marriages for which there are no fixed termination dates, it is up to the parties seeking to terminate or modify support to apply to the same Court for relief at some future date when circumstances have changed.
The amount of spousal support is typically based upon the incomes of the respective parties and/or the abilities of the respective Parties to earn more money than they are presently earning. If incomes fluctuate, for example, if there are regular but uneven commissions or bonus pay, there is a formula commonly used to determine the amount of support.
Spousal support cannot be requested unless a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation has actually been filed. Spousal support may be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances and if the court order provides for modification.
Lawyers in our office are very familiar with the spousal support statutes and a consultation with an attorney to determine whether or not spousal support is appropriate and, if so, how much and for how long, is something within the expertise of our attorneys. That information can be discussed and determined within our customary one hour consultation.