Dealing with the multifaceted financial demands of divorce can exhaust both your mind and your bank account. Property and pension division, child custody and support, court fees, and more – each of these only exacerbate an already emotional and stressful time. One specific matter that brings many worried clients to our door is the paying or requesting of spousal support. Our team of San Jose lawyers has noticed during their years of practice that there is much confusion and concern surrounding this issue. Understandably so, since it can be quite complicated given how many factors weigh into it. However, in the end, the Santa Clara family judge will be the one you must convince since he or she will make the final decision as to the amount and conditions of alimony. This means that a skilled family law attorney can provide a persuasive, powerful case in an effort to sway the judge to either increase or decrease their demands. The details of the case depend greatly on your individual situation, which is why we provide straightforward and completely free legal consultations.
In order for you to prepare for your legal consultation with specific questions, we will discuss some of the details of alimony. First, many clients have asked if there is a difference between alimony and spousal support. In short, there isn’t. These terms are used interchangeably and mean that one spouse will be required to pay a certain amount to the other for a specific length of time after the case is finalized. Alimony can only be requested during divorces, legal separations, and annulments (or when a domestic violence restraining order is put into place). For spousal support to be approved, a judge must rule that it is needed in order to balance out the economic burden placed on each spouse following the divorce. It is paid by the more financially secure spouse in order to provide for the one earning lower wages (either during or after the divorce). Understandably, this can be worrisome if you are the one earning a higher income since it can introduce an additional fee that continues after you and your partner are separated. This situation can also be stressful if you are the one earning a lower salary since perhaps you remained at home during the marriage and did not have time to gain essential skills that will enable your reentry into the job market. Whichever position you find yourself in, we can outline a specific plan of action that will best protect your interests. Know that there are no specific criteria that state when a judge must grant alimony in California. Thus, there is no guarantee that either spouse will ever be required to make payments to the other. It is entirely up to Santa Clara county guidelines and the San Jose judge (or the spouses themselves, if one agrees to pay alimony). This is good news, however, since one of our Bay Area attorneys will have plenty of room to craft a compelling case on why alimony should or shouldn’t be instated.
The guidelines for spousal support in California (and the foundation on which we will build your argument) are broad. To determine whether or not alimony will be granted (and how much), the City of San Jose will first examine the ability of the recipient spouse to provide for him or herself after the divorce. In order for spousal support to be given, the recipient should show that they will not be able to attain the same standard of living that they had during the marriage. This could mean that they were not able to gain professional skills and experience, that he or she was unemployed at some point during the marriage, and/or that it is unlikely that he or she will be able to acquire a job immediately after the divorce, as well as other contentions. Santa Clara county also looks at how long the partnership or marriage lasted and uses this to figure out how long you or your spouse must pay spousal support. Note that when a marriage is deemed to be “long-term,” alimony payments may not end. In the final steps, the judge calculates spousal support in California by using a formula that could include any or all of these factors that will determine both the amount and duration. Remember, spousal support is not like child support. It is often reasonably assumed that both spouses will be able to provide for themselves as adults, but the final verdict is entirely up to the judge. Thus, the spouse who needs additional support must request it from the city of San Jose by filling out forms and drafting an argument with the help of a family law attorney. Many clients wonder if there is a spousal support waiver that they can use to stop spousal support once the judge mandates it. Typically, this is in the hands of the recipient spouse. However, our innovative, experienced lawyers have often found ways to negotiate (such as by granting certain assets during property division)that can convince your spouse to exempt you from payments. There are also circumstances that allow you to appeal to the judge, however. If you have been ordered to pay spousal support, but it is impeding your ability to provide for your own quality of life, contact us right away. You have many different options, and we will be glad to show them to you during your free consultation.