When Does Spousal Support End?
When someone is ordered to pay spousal support, the first thing they want to know is how much and for how long. Many people believe they have to pay support until they die or the ex-spouse remarries. Although that is partly true, sometimes it is possible to end spousal support. Consultation with an experienced Sacramento divorce lawyer can help create a support reduction or elimination strategy based on the case history, judgement or marital settlement agreement.
Spousal Support is Meant to Have an End Date
Recently, appellate courts have decided cases based on the idea that alimony is temporary in most situations. In other words, spousal support is meant to come to an end. With that in mind, you need an effective strategy. An effective strategy begins when you assess what your spousal support said about you and your former spouse’s marital standard of living and the length of the support. When it comes to spousal support, the requirements are:
- 10+ Years – Marriages of 10 years or more follow different rules when determining spousal support. Under California Family Code Section 4320, the supported spouse should become self-supporting as soon as reasonably possible.
- Less Than 10 Years – For marriages that did not make it to the 10 year mark, a reasonable amount of time is considered half the marriage’s length from date of marriage and ending on the date of separation.
California Does Not Require Lifetime Support
The first thing your attorney will do to modify your alimony payment is look into what the supported spouse has done to move towards self-sufficiency. Your ex-spouse should show progress towards self-sustainability. If they have not begun working, your attorney can request a vocational examination to determine your ex-spouse’s ability to work.
Another good reason to argue for a decreased spousal support order is if the former spouse has increased their earnings. Your family law attorney can ask for a Gavron Warning if one has not been requested in the past. A Gavron Warning is an admonition the court makes that requires the supported spouse to become self-sustaining within a reasonable amount of time.
Another consideration in the amount of spousal support to be ordered are the separate assets obtained through the divorce settlement or separately held assets. Should the assets be sufficient to meet the supported spouse’s needs, the court must take them into account when granting spousal support. Additionally, if your income has increased you are not obligated to pay more alimony. The law states that the marital standard of living determines support, not your increased income.
Special Considerations for Cohabitation
Often, divorced individuals paying spousal support ask if they have to wait until their former spouse remarries. In some circumstances, spousal support can be reduced. If your former spouse is in a live-in romantic relationship with another person, your spousal support lawyer may seek a decrease in your alimony payments. Family Code section 4323(a)(1) provides that “there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex…”.
Not all spousal support orders are the same. For specific information about your spousal support case, consult an affordable divorce attorney to discuss your options under California family law.