Modesto Spousal Support Attorney
Permanent spousal support is not mandatory. It can be awarded in a judgment of dissolution or legal separation in an amount and duration the court determines to be reasonable. It is based on the parties’ standard of living established during the marriage and takes into consideration a complex variety of factors.
Attorney Michael Benavides represents clients in contested spousal support proceedings in Stanislaus County. From the establishment of support to modification of existing orders, low-cost Modesto family law attorney Michael Benavides helps clients secure their family law goals for a low hourly rate.
Why does the court award spousal support?
The award of spousal support is an extension of the mutual duty of support in a marriage. The said mutual duty of support is not terminated by legal proceedings for dissolution of marriage or legal separation. In such a matter, the court may order either party to pay spousal support to the other during the pendency of the proceeding (in which case it is called temporary support) and in the judgment (in which case it is called permanent support).
Is permanent spousal support really ‘permanent’?
Not necessarily. Although spousal support awarded in a final judgment is generally referred to as ‘permanent’, the actual duration of spousal support is within the court’s discretion and subject to modification.
What does permanent spousal support include?
Permanent spousal support includes a broad variety of financial assistance designed to cover everyday living expenses, including housing, food, clothing, health, recreation, vacation, and travel expenses. The award is not limited to basic necessities. The court can even order the supporting spouse to pay for:
- Health insurance for the other spouse.
- Pay mortgage payments either to the supported spouse or directly paid to the mortgagor
- Community debts which are overdue or future debts of the supported spouse.
- Take out a life insurance policy instituting the other spouse as beneficiary.
- Buy an annuity or establish a trust for the support of the other spouse after the death of the supporting spouse
- Pay attorney fees of the supported spouse, based on need.
Is temporary support similar to permanent support?
No. Unlike temporary spousal support, the purpose of permanent spousal support is not to preserve the status quo, but to provide financial assistance as determined by the parties’ financial circumstances after dissolution and the division of their community property. Unlike temporary support that utilizes local guidelines, the court considers a wide variety of statutory factors in determining permanent spousal support, such as the goal that the supported spouse should become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Because the considerations in awarding the two types of support are different, the amount of permanent support is often lower than the amount awarded for temporary support.
What factors must the court consider in awarding permanent support?
The court must carefully consider and weigh the following factors in deciding whether or not to award permanent support:
- The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.
- 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.
- The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support.
- The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
- The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
- The duration of the marriage.
- 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.
- The age and health of the parties.
- All documented evidence of any history of domestic violence.
- The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
- The balance of the hardships to each party.
- The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
- The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award
- Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.