How’s California Spousal Support Determined?

During the divorce process you might encounter a petition for spousal support. Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is not an uncommon request and may be granted, along with child support (or in the absence of child support) for a number of reasons. The court decides what the appropriate spousal support is for each particular case, by taking into consideration the specifics of the case, the marriage, the length of the marriage as well as other circumstances.

Spousal Support in California

Spousal support, often a hot button issue, is decided in California by considering many different aspects of the marriage, and the life that will be led by both parties after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage often comes into play when a court is ruling on spousal support. The length of the marriage greatly impacts whether or not spousal support will be granted, often times. A judge will also consider whether or not the person who is asking for spousal support can support themselves with marketable skills. For example, if a 20 year marriage dissolves in which the wife has never worked, she is unlikely to have marketable skills, and, thus will require support until marketable skills or necessary education is achieved.

A court will also take into account whether or not the party asking for spousal support has had their income potential impaired by their time spent outside the workforce because of the marriage. The court will decide whether or not the supported party was removed from the workforce to devote time to their marriage and domestic work, as well.

The supporting party’s needs are also taken into account when dealing with spousal support in court. For example, a judge will consider the lifestyle that both parties have become accustom to in the marriage, and he or she will also look at the monetary obligations of both parties. The supporting party must be able to sustain their own lifestyle appropriately while paying spousal support, and the court will not impose a financial hardship on one party in the interest of the other.

How Does Child Support Impact Spousal Support

Spousal support can be granted regardless of whether or not children were conceived during the marriage, however, many courts rule more favorably for spousal support if there are children involved, specifically, if the supported individual gave up their employment in the interest of caring for children. In many cases, the court agrees that the supported party should not take time away from the raising of children, as they had done during the marriage, for gainful employment and will rule in favor of spousal support to keep the children in a lifestyle they are both familiar and comfortable with. With that being said, however, spousal support can have an end date, and in cases were raising children is a deciding factor, the spousal support may end when the children involved in the case reach an age in which they can reasonably care for themselves.

The Length of Spousal Support

Many people think of spousal support as a never ending agreement. That simply is not the case. In the state of California, most spousal support decrees are for no longer than half the length of the marriage. This is considered enough time for the supported party to gain the skills they need to support their own lifestyle and interests. The length of the marriage, the age and the health of the parties, and other previsions may alter that time frame, however.

What is a Prenup?

A prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a legal document created before entering into a marriage. A prenup can include many provisions, but usually it provides for the division of property and spousal support in the event of the legal dissolution of a marriage. In some states, prenups also include provisions for the forfeiture of assets if the marriage ends in divorce because of adultery, and conditions of guardianship in the event of divorce. Prenups affect alimony payments, property rights, and other assets after a marriage ends. Prenups are also made in the event of death of one partner in a marriage.

Properly Drafted and Executed Prenups

In the US, some prenuptial agreements can be circumvented if it is found that they are not properly drafted and executed. In the state of California, a properly drafted and executed prenup is very powerful. There are five factors that constitute a valid prenup in most jurisdictions in the US:

  1. Must be in writing. Some couples make oral prenups, but they are mostly unenforceable in a court of law. Any marriage lawyer will strongly urge both parties to draft a prenuptial agreement in writing, signed by both parties.
  2. Must be entered into and executed voluntarily. Couples should take steps to prove that the agreement was voluntary. Some couples retain a private judge present during the signing to ensure that neither party has been coerced, and, to show proof of this.
  3. Full and/or fair disclosure when the agreement is officially entered into.
  4. Cannot be deemed unconscionable. This provision typically involves the guardianship of children, who are very often negatively affected by divorce.
  5. Must be officially executed by both parties, as opposed to their attorneys. Both parties must agree to a legal acknowledgement before a notary public for the prenup to be valid.

Prenups in California

Prenuptial law in California varies slightly from other states because it does not recognize penalties for adultery or using recreational drugs that are common in many prenups in other states. Californian courts will also refuse to enforce requirements that children be raised in a certain religion and other requirements written into a prenuptial contract. Couples can waive their rights to share communal property in California, and prenups can limit spousal support to one party or another unless a court rules that support limitations are unconscionable.

Why You Need a Lawyer

There can be many legal pitfalls surrounding prenups, especially in California, where these agreements are considered very powerful. Any contract that you sign, prenup or otherwise, should be read first by a lawyer who can watch for any improprieties and ensure that the contract is legal and benefits you. In California, there are special requirements for those signing prenups without legal representation. You cannot limit spousal support without a lawyer present at the signing, for example. If you wish to call for the payment of a lump sum at the time of divorce, Californian courts may deem the agreement null and void. Lump sum payments at the outset of divorce have come under attack recently in Californian courts because it has been ruled that it promotes divorce. There are many small nuances to prenups that most lay people miss.

Divorce Attorneys

Divorce attorneys help negotiate the terms of a divorce in accordance with the prenuptial agreement. Make sure that you get the best legal counsel when negotiating such a personal and sensitive legal issue. Both parties are encouraged to have legal help when navigating the legal terms of a divorce settlement. Figuring out where the prenup fits into those negotiations is the key to an amicable settlement for both parties.

Mediation and Arbitration

A good lawyer always wants what’s best for the client and, in many cases, that involves alternative dispute resolution processes that keep client fees more manageable and prevents clients from having to step foot in a courtroom. Mediation and arbitration have helped thousands of couples to navigate their divorce agreements as peacefully as possible, keeps families from going to court over child custody issues or entering the agonizing probate process, and they have helped corporate clients resolve any number of disputes.

Work With an  Arbitration Lawyer for Win-Win Resolutions

Most people automatically envision “going to the courthouse” when they think about legal disputes. In fact, the courtroom should always be the last alternative. By the time you get to court, you have spent quite a bit of time, energy and money – and more will continue to be spent as long as the case is being worked out in front of a judge. Instead, we recommend alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a means of saving your money, time and precious life energy. In best case scenarios, ADR will also help to preserve your personal and professional relationships, which is a win-win situation for all.

What is Mediation?

A lawyer specializing in mediation can help you to resolve a multitude of disputes ranging from personal injury claims, conflicts with employees and management, small claims issues to disputes between neighbors or divorce and child custody agreements. Both parties must be in agreement regarding the mediator who oversees the process. The mediator remains an entirely neutral facilitator; he is not there to agree or disagree with either party, assess blame, or in any way affect the final outcome of the mediation process other than to act as a resource in regards to California law. However, it is the mediator’s job to facilitate concessions from either side when things are at a stand-still in order to avoid further conflict, dispute or a potential trial.

In our experience, the vast majority of clients who use mediation as a means of settling their claims are successful in resolving their dispute(s). If, for some reason, both parties are unable to come to a resolution, then you have the right to proceed with a trial and we can help you to prepare for the next step.

What is Arbitration?

Typically, the arbitration process is more formal than mediation. In most cases, arbitration occurs as the result of a pre-dispute contract that stipulates both parties must seek arbitration before any conflict or dispute can be taken to court. There are two different forms of arbitration: Binding and Non-Binding.

Binding arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be overturned or reversed except for extremely limited circumstances. If the arbitration is non-binding, either party can reject the arbitrator’s decision and pursue a trial.

How is Spousal Support Determined in California?

During the divorce process you might encounter a petition for spousal support. Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is not an uncommon request and may be granted, along with child support (or in the absence of child support) for a number of reasons. The court decides what the appropriate spousal support is for each particular case, by taking into consideration the specifics of the case, the marriage, the length of the marriage as well as other circumstances.

Spousal Support in California

Spousal support, often a hot button issue, is decided in California by considering many different aspects of the marriage, and the life that will be led by both parties after the marriage is dissolved. The length of the marriage often comes into play when a court is ruling on spousal support. The length of the marriage greatly impacts whether or not spousal support will be granted, often times.

A judge will also consider whether or not the person who is asking for spousal support can support themselves with marketable skills. For example, if a 20 year marriage dissolves in which the wife has never worked, she is unlikely to have marketable skills, and, thus will require support until marketable skills or necessary education is achieved.

A court will also take into account whether or not the party asking for spousal support has had their income potential impaired by their time spent outside the workforce because of the marriage. The court will decide whether or not the supported party was removed from the workforce to devote time to their marriage and domestic work, as well.

The supporting party’s needs are also taken into account when dealing with spousal support in court. For example, a judge will consider the lifestyle that both parties have become accustom to in the marriage, and he or she will also look at the monetary obligations of both parties. The supporting party must be able to sustain their own lifestyle appropriately while paying spousal support, and the court will not impose a financial hardship on one party in the interest of the other.

How Does Child Support Impact Spousal Support

Spousal support can be granted regardless of whether or not children were conceived during the marriage, however, many courts rule more favorably for spousal support if there are children involved, specifically, if the supported individual gave up their employment in the interest of caring for children. In many cases, the court agrees that the supported party should not take time away from the raising of children, as they had done during the marriage, for gainful employment and will rule in favor of spousal support to keep the children in a lifestyle they are both familiar and comfortable with. With that being said, however, spousal support can have an end date, and in cases were raising children is a deciding factor, the spousal support may end when the children involved in the case reach an age in which they can reasonably care for themselves.

The Length of Spousal Support

Many people think of spousal support as a never ending agreement. That simply is not the case. In the state of California, most spousal support decrees are for no longer than half the length of the marriage. This is considered enough time for the supported party to gain the skills they need to support their own lifestyle and interests. The length of the marriage, the age and the health of the parties, and other previsions may alter that time frame, however.

What is Pre-Divorce Legal Counseling?

Maintaining a healthy, vibrant marriage can be difficult. Even under the best of circumstances, marriage is a stressful and complex world. Some of these stresses and complexities can cause your marriage to become strained, forcing you to consider divorce as your only option. But, there is a way to protect yourself when going down that costly and often emotionally devastating route.

If you feel that your marriage is beyond repair and divorce is the only option, pre-divorce counseling can help to minimize the often negative impacts associated with these proceedings. Marriages can fail for many reasons, whether you think it’s your partner’s fault or not, your irreconcilable differences could end up requiring pre-divorce counseling before all is said and done.

Counseling

Although many states do not require counseling by law, you may still want to inform yourself of these services once your relationship gets to this point. Counseling could help you with attempts for the reconciliation of your marriage, or if that’s not an option, it will provide you with resources you can rely on when your divorce goes to litigation hearings. Divorces can be ugly for all parties involved. Pre-divorce counseling can help prepare you for the emotional aspects of what is to come regarding the circumstances of your divorce.

Counseling can also show you and your spouse how to develop the necessary skills for separating practical issues with emotional ones. This is extremely important when dealing with decisions on dividing personal assets, acquired debt, and in many cases, children responsibilities. Counseling can assist you and your spouse when it comes to engaging with one another in a more productive environment so that all parties’ best interests are protected.

Counseling should be your attempt to navigate the separation process while going through the divorce in the most amicable way for both you and your spouse. This will result in the least collateral damage during the process, and will protect you, and possibly your children as well.

Is Pre-Divorce Counseling In The Best Interest For All Parties Involved?

If there are children involved, take a deeper look into the issues of your problems. You at least owe this to them and this may give you one last chance to keep your marriage together. If you have a good marriage counselor, and aren’t too far gone within your own relationship, you may be able to get back that strong bond your marriage once had. But, if you still feel like divorce is the best option, at least you will now have the added benefit of going through the process and you will come out much stronger because of it.

When choosing a pre-divorce counselor, it’s important to remember that they are not all alike. Some may be good, while others may not be as educated and experienced. If you and your spouse feel like your marital issues are not being addressed properly or being recognized at all, go to another counselor and see if they are able to help you better. Every counselor brings their own unique perspective to a situation. Healing a marriage can be a daunting task, and not all counselors may be up to that task when it comes to your circumstances.

Lastly

On the other hand, if you find that you’re continuously bouncing from one counselor to another, maybe it’s time to take a good, long look at yourself and see if you are the one being resistant to what they are offering. Divorce can cause you many unwanted stresses. Counseling doesn’t have to be one of those stresses.