Riverside Spousal Support Lawyer
When a marriage dissolves or a domestic partnership terminates, spousal or partner support needs may arise. Some people are familiar with the term alimony, but California uses the term spousal support. While a divorce is pending, one spouse can file a request for order for spousal or partner support. Courts regularly use the statutory guideline amount calculated by the software programs for temporary spousal support at request for order hearings. Request for order hearings are usually filed close to the filing of the dissolution of marriage so a spouse does not have to wait for the trial for spousal support to be ordered. Accordingly, temporary spousal support orders are usually modified at the trial if a stipulation is not reached. Also, these temporary orders can terminate on a specified date set by the court or they can terminate upon a court order.
The Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside has an excellent set of instructions for helping litigants prepare for trial. The set of instructions can easily be found by an internet search of Instructions for Riverside Superior Court Spousal/Partner Support Declaration Family Code Section 4320 Factors. These instructions even include tips and suggestions to help litigants understand the factors. California law has created Family Code Section 4320 as a guide for spouses or their Indio Family Law Attorneys or Riverside Divorce Lawyers to argue for and against support, and allows the court to weigh each factor in determining the spousal support order. Riverside divorce Attorneys are skilled at preparing for trial, submitting exhibits, witness lists and arguing at trial.
California Family Code Section 4330 allows the court to “order a party to pay for the support of the other party an amount, for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage.” The court needs to understand the general lifestyle the parties had during the marriage in determining the marital standard of living. Understanding the income, expenses and lifestyle of the parties, such as vacations, homes and cars, etc., helps the court determine the marital standard of living. Riverside Family Law Attorneys can file pictures of cars, trucks, boats, horses, watercraft, etc. to provide evidence of the marital standard of living at trial. Any relevant facts to establish the marital standard of living can be used at trial. Accordingly, the court can look at the vacations or hobbies of the parties, such as skiing, boating or horse riding.
Under Family Code Section 4320(a), the court must consider “The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.” Accordingly, the court needs to determine whether the litigants are making money to live up to the lifestyle established during the marriage or domestic partnership. If the supported party does not have marketable skills, what can the supported party do to acquire the marketable skills? For example, the judge will look to see if that person has a professional license to utilize, and whether there is actually a job market for those skills. Another important factor to look at is whether that person's ability to earn has been impaired by periods of unemployment during the marriage that were devoted to domestic duties. The unemployed spouse's status could make it very difficult to find a job.
Spousal support issues could give rise to the supported spouse having to submit to an examination by a vocational training counselor under Family Code Section 4331. The paying spouse can generally file a request for order seeking a vocational examination if the supported spouse will not stipulate to the examination. The spouse paying spousal support may have to pay for the examination subject to reallocation. Once the examination is complete, the court may have the ability to impute income to the spouse receiving support. Imputing income to a person means that person is actually earning a certain amount of money even though that person is not actually earning any money. The imputation of income can help offset what the spouse paying support will have to pay.
Family Code Section 4320(b) looks at “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.” For example, the court will look at whether one spouse helped put the other through school or whether the supported person needs to go back and get additional training or education. The spouse that stayed at home to be the primary caretaker of the children needs to be given the same consideration that an employed spouse receives under Marriage of Ostler & Smith.
Family Code Section 4320(c) looks at “The supporting party's ability to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.” The court needs to evaluate whether the person paying support has adequate income to actually pay. The court may analyze that person's income, assets and the lifestyle after the date of separation. However, if the court finds that a spouse has the ability and opportunity to make more money than he or she is actually earning, but is unwilling to make more, the court can assert an earning-capacity standard to deter the person's shirking of family obligations pursuant to Marriage of Regnery. The court will look at factors, such as age, occupation, skills, education, health, background, work experience, and qualifications to determine a person's ability to work. Determining the spouse's willingness to work via good faith efforts, the court will analyze a person's due diligence and meaningful attempts to find work. The opportunity to work is covered by an employer willing to hire that person.
Family Code Section 4320(d) looks at “The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.” The court will evaluate the needs of each party in light of the lifestyle the parties had during their marriage or domestic partnership, and this is more than the bare necessities of life pursuant to Marriage of Siegel. Analyzing how long the litigants have been separated and whether the litigants have become financially independent since the date of separation should be analyzed. The court will look at how much money, if any, the spouses saved during the marriage. Judges will look at whether an annuity or life insurance policy should be bought for the supported spouse/partner. Family Code Section 4323 covers a rebuttable presumption of a decreased need for spousal support when the person receiving spousal support is cohabitating with another person.
Family Code Section 4320(e) addresses “The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.” Spousal support may not be necessary if the litigants have sufficient assets, such as separate property or a share of community property.
Family Code Section 4320(f) addresses “The duration of the marriage.” Many issues in a divorce analyze the date of marriage to the date of separation. For long-term marriages, the length of the marriage is a primary factor in analyzing support.
Family Code Section 4320(g) looks at “The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.” There is a fine balance between the supported party finding suitable employment and making sure the children receive needed attention. The court will look at whether a supported person's job will negatively impact the care of the children.
Family Code Section 4320(h) looks at “The age and health of the parties.” This section is very straight-forward. Does either party have medical conditions preventing them from seeking work or keeping a job? The court will also analyze whether a person's age negatively impacts his or her ability to find a job.
Family Code Section 4320(i) addresses “Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.” The court will analyze whether domestic violence existed between the spouses, and how long ago it occurred, if at all.
Family Code Section 4320(j) addresses “The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.” People should always consult with a tax attorney or certified public accountant in dealing with tax issues. The person paying spousal support may take a tax deduction while the person receiving support pays taxes on the money received. The parties can even designate spousal support as nondeductible to the person paying spousal support and nontaxable to the party receiving support.
Family Code Section 4320(k) looks at “The balance of the hardships to each party.” Divorce lawyers can argue that their clients can either suffer negative consequences if spousal support is denied or granted.
Family Code Section 4320(l) addresses “The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a ‘reasonable period of time' for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.” The court will analyze the plan of the supported party to become financially independent, and what acts will this person do to become financially independent.
Family Code Section 4320(m) states “The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.” The family law court needs to know whether either of the spouses has been convicted of domestic violence in criminal court against the other spouse. Since there is a presumption against awarding spousal support to a spouse who has been convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse within the last five years, the court needs to know how long ago the conviction occurred.
Family Code Section 4320(n) allows litigants to list “Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.” Litigants should let the court know any information they think can help the court determine spousal or partner support. This is where Riverside Divorce Lawyer Joseph Torri can help clients defend against or establish spousal support. Litigants may get lost in determining how to proceed and what forms to fill out. They may also be nervous, and not think of the all of the arguments to make. Skilled divorce attorneys have the experience to help alleviate many concerns clients face. The Law Offices of Joseph Torri handles family law cases in the Riverside, Indio and Hemet courthouses. Jurisdiction covers Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, La Quinta, Indio, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Blythe, Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, and the remaining cities within the county.