Lake Forest Spousal Support Lawyer
With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team is highly qualified to provide legal services for your most difficult family circumstances.
Lake Forest Spousal Support Attorney
When ending a marriage or domestic partnership, several life changes will occur outside of your relationship status. Locating separate places to live, settling into a single life, and separating finances are all significant undertakings. This can be particularly difficult if there is a notable difference in salaries between the parties. Knowing and exercising your rights is the greatest way to ensure you leave the relationship with everything you are legally entitled to. This is especially true if one party stopped working to take care of the home or children. One way court systems balance out the income disparity between separating spouses is through spousal support.
Spousal support can have a significant impact on both the payer and the recipient. It is imperative that the process be completed correctly to ensure proper payments and duration. It can be difficult to understand how spousal support may apply in your situation. Therefore, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney can provide valuable insight into whether spousal support is a possibility in your separation. They can also help you determine who will be responsible for paying. DeArmey Law has decades of experience in Lake Forest family law. This has given us exposure to many spousal support cases. During these cases, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge we can impart to our clients. We are fully dedicated to supporting our clients through their separation. Our firm can easily handle the situation, should spousal support be required.
What Is Spousal Support?
Two Types of Spousal Support
There are two main types of spousal support: temporary and permanent. These are legal terms, not to be confused with the common definitions.
- Temporary: Temporary support is spousal support that can be ordered while the divorce or separation is pending. It will not expire, and there will be no specified timeframe for the support. It is meant to maintain the living standards and conditions of both parties until the marital debts and assets have been divided. Then, a permanent spousal support order can be put in place.
- Permanent: Permanent support is post-divorce or post-separation spousal support. The amount and duration of the payments are determined by a judge. They will consider various, pre-determined factors if the separating partners are unable to create their own spousal support plan. The purpose of permanent spousal support is to give the lower-earning spouse enough income to help maintain a consistent lifestyle after the separation. It is also intended to account for their basic needs.
Calculating the Amount of Spousal Support
Temporary and permanent spousal support are calculated differently. One party will file a motion to request temporary support. Then, both parties will submit an Income and Expense Declaration and exchange all financial documents required by local court rules. The gross income, tax filing status, and relevant deductions are used with court-approved software to calculate a guideline temporary spousal support amount. The court does have the discretion to deviate from the guidelines and order more or less support. However, it depends on the circumstances of the individual case.
California Family Code 4320 contains 14 factors that a court will use to determine the amount and duration of permanent spousal support. However, the judge also has discretion in creating this type of spousal support order. When creating a permanent spousal support order, the court will consider many factors, including:
- Marital living standards
- Contributions to the payer’s education and career
- The payer’s ability to pay
- The needs required to maintain the established living standard
- The individual property of each party
- The duration of the domestic partnership or marriage
- How dependent children will be affected
- The health and age of the parties
- Documented domestic violence instances between the couple
- Tax implications
- Potential hardships for each party
- The receiver’s required goal to become self-supporting for short-term marriages
- Criminal conviction for domestic violence
- Any other relevant considerations for the case
The judge will use any information provided by the parties. They will then determine the amount and duration of a spousal support agreement that fairly considers the above factors. It is possible to avoid having a judge create the spousal support order. If the parties can create a mutually satisfactory spousal support plan, the judge will sign off on the agreement, and it will become legally binding.
Determining the Duration of Spousal Support
The length of the marriage or domestic partnership will significantly determine the duration of spousal payments. The court will put the marriage or partnership into one of two categories:
- Short-Term: Short-term marriages or domestic partnerships are those that lasted for fewer than ten years. As a general rule, courts will not order permanent spousal support to last longer than half the total term of the marriage.
- Long-Term: Long-term marriages or domestic partnerships are those that lasted for more than ten years. In most instances, the court will not specify a definite date of termination. However, the parties can return to court to request a modification or termination if the circumstances of either party change in a way to justify the alteration.
Ways to Avoid Paying Alimony in Lake Forest, California
Spousal support is not automatic or mandatory in California. It will not be included in every divorce or separation. A determination of support process will clarify if alimony is required from your separation. Nevertheless, there are steps to take that can reduce your likelihood of paying spousal support. These include:
- Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements: You can protect yourself in the event of a separation by signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse. This agreement can clarify any financial arrangements if you divorce. It can also help protect individual assets.
- Prove Spousal Cohabitation: If you have evidence to prove your spouse is living with another person, it is possible to avoid paying spousal support. It is also possible to eliminate or reduce payments if you can prove your spouse is capable of supporting themselves.
- Be Reasonable and Fair: The court will examine both parties’ incomes and assets to find a fair payment. Hiding income or assets will be poorly regarded. It can result in legal penalties that increase spousal support payments. If you show a willingness to split your assets equally, the court may be more inclined to rule in your favor.
- Divorce Attorney: Although it is possible to get a divorce and handle spousal support without an attorney, it will put you at a serious disadvantage. An experienced attorney will have valuable insight into the court’s processes and presiding judge. They will have the knowledge required to correctly file any legal paperwork within the established time constraints. Choosing an attorney with significant exposure to spousal support cases, like DeArmey Law, is the most effective way to set yourself up for success.
There is no cut-and-dry answer to avoiding spousal support in Lake Forest, CA, and any solution will require a thorough examination of your exact situation. If your circumstances do call for spousal support to be paid to the other party, you will be legally required to make the payments in full for the duration of the order.
Paying and Collecting Spousal Support
- Earnings Assignment: In this instance, the payments will be pulled directly from the payer’s paycheck by their employer to be sent to the recipient. If the paying spouse is employed, this is the most typical route for spousal support payments.
- From Paying Spouse: The paying spouse might be self-employed. Sometimes, having their employer collect the payments would cause hardship. In these cases, the spouse can be ordered to send the payments directly to the recipient. This route only works if the paying spouse is diligent in sending the full payment on time. As protection, the receiving spouse can request that an earnings assignment still be filed but that it be put on hold. If the paying spouse ever stops making payments, the recipient can then request that the hold be ended.
Lake Forest Spousal Support Attorneys
Ensuring a proper spousal support amount and duration requires the court to have a complete, accurate picture of your marital assets and finances. DeArmey Law can help you find and convey this in the most appropriate way. Our compassionate team aims to support you through your divorce and spousal support settlement process. We can reduce your anxiety and fear during this complex period in your life. Contact DeArmey Law to speak with attorneys skilled in protecting their clients’ interests through a divorce or domestic partnership separation.