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The financial aspect of divorce is often the area of highest argumentation, since one’s ability to provide for themselves and their children is so dependent on economic stability. Often, couples going through a divorce worry about the dent it will put in their bank account. This is especially true for those who stayed home during a marriage to look after their children and their home and will now lose the source of income their spouse provided. This can also be true if you spent a great deal of money on your spouse and now desire that that money be returned to help you pay for your divorce or regain your footing following the separation. Whatever the case may be, you could qualify for spousal support in Los Angeles. The following paragraphs contain general information on what alimony is and the types of spousal support in California, the process of obtaining spousal support in Los Angeles, how spousal support is calculated, etc. However, this should not be considered legal advice, as spousal support differs greatly between individuals. Thus, call our Los Angeles alimony attorneys for a free consultation on your specific situation.
What is Alimony? What’s the Purpose of Spousal Support in Los Angeles?
Simply put, alimony is a court-mandated form of financial support offered to one spouse after a divorce or legal separation.
Difference Between Spousal Support and Alimony?
There really isn’t a difference between spousal support and alimony. Alimony is simply the more outdated term for spousal support, the latter of which was coined for clarity and simplicity.
Types of Alimony in Los Angeles, California
There are several different types of spousal support you can request from Los Angeles County courts, each ordered by the court for a different purpose.
Temporary Spousal Support During the Divorce
The first type of support that the judge can mandate is called temporary support. It is paid by the spouse earning higher wages to the spouse who may be unemployed or earning significantly less income than their partner. This is to ensure that both can afford the fees associated with the divorce while still supporting themselves and their children.
Like the previous form of spousal support, this one is usually paid by the spouse who is more financially secure to the one who did not work or earned less during the course of their marriage. If one spouse stayed at home with the kids or only had a part time job during their marriage, this type of spousal support will enable them to provide for themselves while they gain the skills or training necessary to reenter the workforce. Typically, this will only last for the time the judge feels it would take for the spouse to find a job and begin earning a solid salary.
This type of alimony is provided to a permanently incapacitated spouse who cannot work for a physical or mental reason. Permanent spousal support, as the name suggests, will last for the remainder of the recipient or payor’s life or unless the circumstances of either one drastically change.
Again, as the name implies, reimbursement spousal support is meant to pay back one spouse who spent a significant amount of money on their partner during the marriage. The most common occurrence of reimbursement alimony is when one person pays for their husband or wife’s college tuition or paid off their loan and the other must pay them back for that after the divorce.
This is when the amount of alimony ordered by the Los Angeles courts is paid off in one large payment (or in a couple small payments). Most often, you see this in temporary or reimbursement alimony, but you can also pay off reimbursement alimony in one lump sum. This is extremely rare for permanent alimony, for the obvious reason that neither the payor or the payee knows for certain how long it will last.
Request for Spousal Support in California
You can only request alimony in Los Angeles if you are going through a divorce, a legal separation or annulment, or have placed restraining order for domestic violence on your spouse. If you are in any of these circumstances, you will need to show the judge that spousal support is required for you to attain the same standard of living you and your spouse had during the marriage. Again, depending on the type of alimony, your case could be built on the fact that you didn’t work during the marriage and don’t have the skills necessary to find a job quickly. Or you can make a case that you spent a large amount of money on your spouse that should be paid back. For more information on how to prove your case for spousal support, continue reading and call our Los Angeles spousal support attorneys for a free consultation.
Spousal Support Through Mediation – Written Alimony Agreement
In ideal cases, you and your spouse may be able to agree on the terms of spousal support without ever having to go before a judge. This could be done on your own or through mediation. If you choose this process, your spousal support attorney can help you negotiate the specifications of your alimony arrangement and draft a spousal support agreement that you both can sign. We will let you know exactly what you’re singing off on, including how long the alimony will last and how much you’re agreeing to pay. Of course, this option is not the best for everyone, so call us to see if it is right for you.
Forms for Spousal Support in Los Angeles, California
In order to request spousal support from Los Angeles County courts, you must fill out several different alimony forms. These will require you to answer questions about your income, employment history and sources of income, and expenses. For temporary spousal support, there may be additional forms you must turn into LA County. Make sure that you are filling each of these out correctly, since they will be the foundation on which the judge determines spousal support. For details on how to fill out spousal support forms, call our alimony lawyers. If you are responding to a request for alimony from your spouse, you have to fill out the necessary spousal support response forms within a deadline to avoid fees or penalties. We have walked many couples through the process of requesting alimony and responding to alimony requests time and time again, even those couples involved in high net-worth divorces or those who have complex economic circumstances (e.g. self-employed, owners of business, multiple streams of income, multitude of complicated expenses). We know exactly what the judges look for and how to highlight certain details to give you the best chance at a satisfactory result.
Proof That Spousal Support is Needed (or Not Needed)
Whether you are requesting spousal support through Los Angeles courts or fighting a request for alimony, you will want to make a strong case that solidly proves that spousal support is or isn’t needed. California does not have any laws requiring the judge to order spousal support. Thus, you must persuade him or her personally towards your side. A few paragraphs below this, we list the criteria the judge will look for when deciding who pays alimony and how much. That list will be the foundation of your arguments. However, the use of persuasive rhetoric (in writing and in speaking) and a keen eye will give you the best shot at convincing the judge of your position. And that is what our spousal support attorneys at our Los Angeles firm provide. Call us for your consultation to ensure that we are a good match before making any commitments.
How Is Alimony Calculated in California?
These are the two most common questions we get asked regarding spousal support: how much alimony will I have to pay and how long will I have to make spousal support payments? There is no easy answer to this. As stated previously, the types of alimony usually dictate how long spousal support will last and your individual circumstances will determine the amount of alimony mandated by the courts. Thus, there is no average amount of alimony in California. That being said, there are criteria Los Angeles County will use to calculate spousal support.
Temporary Spousal Support Calculator for Los Angeles, California
In the case of temporary alimony, the judge will use a specific formula (often by inputting the data on a computer program) to calculate how much alimony will be due during the divorce. This will take into account temporary orders on child custody and support, the levels of income of both spouses during the marriage, and the current levels of income of both spouses. The judge may examine different factors he or she feels are important. However, usually he will simply plug the child support and income numbers into the spousal support calculator and generate an amount.
Ways the Judge Will Calculate Spousal Support (That Isn’t Temporary) in Los Angeles
The Factors that Determine the Amount of Alimony in California
There are several criteria that the judge will typically examine when making his final decision regarding alimony, whether it be rehabilitative, permanent, reimbursement, or lump-sum. The list provided below is not comprehensive, since the judge can add or remove criteria as he or she sees fit. You can find more information on each of these factors in California’s Family Code 4320.
• The skills and experience of each partner as they pertain to their ability to find work and maintain a steady income
• Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
• Payor’s ability to pay spousal support
• Needs of both the recipient and payor
• The shared and separate property of both partners (which includes alternate sources of income and debts)
• Duration of marriage
• Child custody arrangements and how employment affects that
• Age and health of both partners
• History of domestic violence or abuse
• Pertinent tax information
• Pros and cons of assigning or not assigning spousal support for both partners
• Length of time needed for the recipient spouse to rehabilitate
• Criminal convictions related to child or domestic abuse
Alimony Calculations in Short-Term Marriages in Los Angeles, California
Usually, if the couple was not married for a very long time, Los Angeles judges will only order alimony to be paid for half as long as the marriage lasted. Thus, if you were married for four years, the payor will make spousal support payments for two years. This does not apply to permanent alimony, of course. Also, the judge can assign alimony for longer or shorter as needed based on several other factors.
Alimony Calculations for Long-Term Marriages in Los Angeles, California
In Los Angeles, the longer a couple is married, the more complicated spousal support becomes. This is because the standard of living they enjoyed probably fluctuated throughout their marriage. Thus, it is up to the judge to decide which part of the marriage he will look at to determine the quality of life the couple had during the marriage and how much spousal support should be paid based on this. Usually, this is only about five years before the couple filed for divorce. However, you also have some ability to make a case to the judge about the time period he looks at, so contact our Los Angeles spousal support attorneys to further explore your options.
How to Lower Spousal Support Payments in Los Angeles
If you feel that you are paying too much for spousal support or you feel like the alimony order was unjustified, call us to discuss your options. We can help you prove that a change in circumstances calls for a modification of alimony. This change could be a sudden drop in your income (or loss of your job) or an increase in your necessary expenses. Or it could be that your spouse is now making enough that they don’t need spousal support or their needs no longer necessitate the addition financial assistance.
How to Increase Alimony Payments in Los Angeles
If you are not receiving enough spousal support to provide for yourself, call us. We will help you show the judge that some change in your circumstances (an increase in expenses, a decrease in salary, etc) call for your spousal support order to be modified.
How to Waive Alimony Payments in Los Angeles
Usually, you cannot stop paying spousal support unless your spouse waives the alimony order themselves. However, we have often found alternative ways to convince your spouse that alimony is not needed or to use property, debts, or pension division as a way to convince them not to order alimony in the first place or to waive the spousal support order. Whatever your situation, call us for a free consultations so we can discuss your options today.