Divorce and separation can be hard on a family, even years after the original separation. At Ewing Law Group, our team of family law attorneys is dedicated to providing legal help to people going through a range of family law issues, including anything that may arise with spousal support. We are also passionate about helping our clients. When you work with our firm, you can trust both our skill and experience.
Spousal support, in some cases called alimony, is defined as one party in the separation or divorce paying the other party a stipend or regular fee to help them maintain financial stability. Spousal support can be granted by a judge in divorce cases, as well as in legal separations. When spousal support is granted, it can either be temporary or permanent. Temporary support is typically used to help the party that makes the least amount of money to make ends meet while the divorce proceedings are finalized or until they can make enough money to support themselves and any children they may have to care for. Permanent or long-term spousal support is rarely granted and has several qualifications that need to be met to be deemed necessary. Permanent spousal support is typically reserved for cases involving the end of long-term marriages or one party’s inability to make their own money due to a disability or illness.
In California, there is no difference between spousal support and alimony. The two terminologies both mean the same thing; one spouse is financially supporting the other in a legal separation or divorce. Alimony is an older term and specifically references ‘ex-wife’ and ‘ex-husband’ in the definition, whereas spousal support is a gender-neutral term and therefore is more up-to-date. Your divorce attorney can help you determine if spousal support is necessary in your case and how much you may need. Ultimately, however, the judge is the one who decides whether spousal support is warranted, as well as the amount and time for which it’s granted.
Spousal support can be divided into two categories — short-term spousal support and permanent spousal support. The rulings for spousal support can vary, and it is all up to the judge to determine the amount of support given, to whom, and for how long. All these stipulations are based on a set of criteria the court uses to determine what the need is.
Short-term spousal support is a category with a range of interpretations. A significant amount of spousal support falls under the title of ‘rehabilitative support.’ Rehabilitative support is ordered when one spouse has an insignificant or no income to support themselves. With rehabilitative support, it stays in place until either the spouse comes to a stable financial point or they get remarried. Rehabilitative support can be ended if the spouse being paid is not making any effort to become financially independent. Other short-term spousal support can last for the length of the divorce proceedings, or a set amount of time, based on the judge’s determination.
Permanent spousal support is not necessarily permanent. It refers to long-term spousal support. This form of spousal support is not only rare but has its own set of guidelines that need to be met to be implemented. Long-term spousal support is typically only called for when there is a spouse that cannot make a living due to some mitigating factor, such as a physical disability or illness.
In spousal support cases in Placer County, California, the judge that orders spousal support will determine the monthly payments due and, on occasion, the amount of the lump sum. The spousal support orders will work with the employer of the paying spouse to withhold the amount of support due from their paycheck. Payment withholding can be a very effective way to ensure that the spousal support payments will come through regularly.
On occasion, when people change jobs or have changes in income, they may forget or intentionally choose not to inform the courts of their change of employment. This can cause significant issues with the withholding of spousal support, and payments could stop coming entirely. At this point, you would need to enlist the help of a spousal support attorney. As with child support, spousal support is mandated by the courts, and if the paying spouse fails to meet the court-ordered payments, the spouse receiving the payments can ask the court to step in and help them reclaim any money owed to them. This process may take some time, and it is best to have a spousal support lawyer at the ready to help you with any issues that may arise.
Spousal support is one of the few things that always must be repaid. In short, there is no statute of limitations on already set and agreed upon spousal support payments. That being said, there are some stipulations in California for the extent to which spousal support can be ordered. In a marriage that lasted less than ten years, spousal support is only allowed to last for half of the duration of the marriage (i.e., in a five-year marriage, spousal support can only be ordered for up to two and a half years). For spousal support in cases of marriages that lasted more than ten years, there is no set time limit to spousal support. However, spousal support will always end if the spouse receiving support remarries.
It is possible to end or change the terms of your spousal support situation. If both spouses involved in the spousal support agree to changing the terms or ending the spousal support, they can take the case to the courts and sign a new spousal support agreement. If one spouse wants to change the terms or terminate spousal support, and the other does not agree to it, the case will be taken to court. At this point, having a spousal support attorney will help give you the best chance of ending the spousal support payments.
To end or change the terms of your spousal support payments, you will need proof that the situation for you, or the spouse you are paying, has changed significantly. This can mean anything from you being unable to make payments due to an injury or illness or proof that the spouse you are paying is not making an appropriate effort to become financially independent. It all depends on the details of your case, and a spousal support lawyer will be in the best position to help you.
Spousal support is considered by the court in cases of divorce and legal separation. Several factors contribute to the decision of ordering spousal support. The criteria include, but are not limited to:
Another common form of financial support in divorce and legal separations is child support. Child support is the mandated payment from one spouse to another for the financial support of their shared child or children. Child support, like spousal support, is mandated by the court system and is typically a set payment amount disbursed at regular intervals, typically monthly. Child support is different, however, as it needs to have a custody agreement in place before the need for child support can be determined.
Child custody agreements can get messy, and there are often strong emotions involved. Placer County divorce attorneys have plenty of experience with child custody agreements, as well as the issue of child support. Having a good divorce lawyer can help you maintain custody of your child and help you navigate the court system regarding child support and how it works. Child support payments, like spousal support payments, can be withdrawn from the paying spouse’s paycheck as long as their employment is properly recorded with the courts. If there are any issues with payments not being made, the proper recourse is to contact the courts and have them help retrieve the money owed.
Spousal support is an essential part of divorce proceedings, especially when there isn’t a settlement agreement in place. It exists to protect people from being financially ruined by divorce. In cases where there are settlement agreements in place, often reached in mediation with divorce attorneys, you have more control over what happens between you and your former spouse. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the court is obligated to make sure a fair and just separation agreement is reached. The Placer County spousal support attorneys at Ewing Law Group are ready to face any challenges head-on. Contact us today to get started.