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EXPERIENCED DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Beverly Hills Spousal Support AttorneyWhen you get divorced it can be tough to adjust to life as a single person. Rather than relying on two sources of income, you’ll be forced to figure out how to make ends meet on your own. Spousal support can help to make this transition easier. If you are going through a divorce in Beverly Hills, you need to understand your legal rights and obligations when it comes to alimony. Contact Berenji & Associates to schedule your free consultation.

Our Beverly Hills spousal support attorneys have been helping divorcing spouses with their most complex financial issues for more than 25 years. Whether you want to receive alimony or have been asked to pay, our attorneys are here to help you navigate the dispute. Alimony matters can be complicated. You need an experienced Beverly Hills attorney by your side. Call us today to learn more.

Purpose of Spousal Support in California

Spousal support is not something that spouses automatically receive when they get divorced. In fact, spousal support is only ordered in about 15 percent of all divorces. Why? Spousal support is a tool that helps spouses maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during marriage.

Generally speaking, the higher-earning spouse is ordered to pay the lower-earning spouse a specific sum of money each month. Support payments help spouses to transition to life as a single person without giving up the lifestyle they enjoyed when they were married.

Years ago, the income gap between spouses was significant. It was not uncommon for the husband to earn all, if not most, of the household income. When those couples divorced, spousal support was almost necessary to prevent the wife from being put out on the streets with nothing.

Today, however, the wage gap between spouses doesn’t tend to be as significant. In fact, there are many households in which women earn just as much, if not more, money than their husbands. Since spousal support is typically used when there is a discrepancy in income, it is not needed as much today.

Asking for Spousal Support in Beverly Hills

Most requests for spousal support are made in conjunction with other family law matters. Cases in which requests for spousal support are typically made include:

Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support

There are actually two types of spousal support orders: temporary and permanent.

Temporary Spousal Support

A court has the authority to order one spouse to pay the other a specific sum of money for a limited period of time. Temporary spousal support is typically used when spouses are going through the process of getting divorced. These temporary orders help to ensure that each spouse will have sufficient income until the terms of the divorce are finalized.

Temporary orders will be valid until the divorce is finalized. If a permanent order is issued, the paying spouse must comply with those new terms.

Permanent Spousal Support

The term “permanent” spousal support is a bit misleading. The order to pay spousal support isn’t actually permanent. Instead, it is a more formal order that can be in place for an extended period of time. The duration of a permanent order for spousal support will actually depend on many factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage, and
  • The receiving spouse’s ability to earn money on his or her own.

Generally speaking, the longer spouses are married, the longer the requirement to pay spousal support.

Duration of Permanent Spousal Support

When a request for spousal support is made, a marriage will be classified as either “short duration” or “long duration.”

Short Duration: Short duration means that the marriage lasted for less than 10 years. In these cases, the maximum length of a support order will be half the duration of that marriage. For example, if you were married for 8 years, the maximum length of a support for alimony would be 4 years. There are, however, always exceptions to the rule. It’s important to consult with an attorney to make sure the length of your support order is calculated properly.

Long Duration: Long duration means that a marriage lasted at least 10 years. In these cases, courts actually can’t say when spousal support obligations must expire. Instead, the need for spousal support is reassessed every so often.

Calculating Spousal Support Obligations

How much spousal support can a spouse be required to pay? How much in alimony can a lower-earning spouse receive? Courts in Los Angeles County must consider certain factors, as stated in Family Code Section 4320, when calculating support requirements.

Factors that must be considered in requests for spousal support include:

  • How long the marriage or partnership lasted.
  • Each spouse’s personal need based on their standard of living during the marriage.
  • How much each spouse can afford on his or her own to maintain that standard.
  • Whether one spouse made personal sacrifices during the marriage to support the other spouse and/or raise a family.
  • Each spouse’s age and health.
  • Debts and assets, both individually and together.
  • Presence of domestic violence in the home.
  • Tax impacts of alimony on both the paying and receiving spouse.

Financial Disclosures

When a request for spousal support is made, both spouses are legally required to complete financial disclosure forms. Disclosures include information and details about:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Benefits
  • Property, and
  • Debts.

These disclosures will help to court assess each individual’s financial situation. You must complete these forms to the best of your knowledge. These disclosures are completed under Oath, so providing false or inaccurate information can be a crime.

Negotiating Support Payments On Your Own

You don’t have to let a court decide how much your spousal support payments will be. You and your spouse have the right to negotiate the terms of your alimony privately. Working with a mediator or family law facilitator can help you find a mutually agreeable arrangement. However, courts must sign off on the terms of your proposed support agreement. Courts will want to make sure that the terms are fair to both spouses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spousal Support in Beverly Hills

Here are some of the questions our attorneys receive most frequently about spousal support in Beverly Hills.

I’m Paying Spousal Support. What Happens If My Income Changes?

Your spousal support obligation was calculated using precise information about your income, expenses, and other relevant factors. You have the right to request a modification to your order if any of those factors change. However, you will have to provide verifiable proof that your income is different now. This can simply require showing the court a paystub, W2, or unemployment letter.

What If My Ex-Spouse Isn’t Trying to Find a Job?

Spousal support is really only intended as a tool to help spouses transition to life as a single person. The idea is that the financial support helps a lower-earning spouse get on his or her feet. Support payments are only intended to exist until the lower-earning spouse has had a sufficient amount of time to find a job and generate an income to support themselves.

If you know that your ex is trying to avoid work you can ask a court to modify your order so that you pay less. If you can prove that your ex is intentionally unemployed, the court may decide to impute income. This basically means that the court assigns your ex a certain level of income. When the calculation for support is done, your obligation to pay will be less.

I’m Paying Alimony. What Happens If My Ex-Spouse Gets Remarried?

Marriage will void your obligation to pay spousal support. Why? Your ex can now rely on his or her new spouse for income.

I’m Receiving Alimony. What Happens If My Ex-Spouse Gets Remarried?

You still get to receive your spousal support. The obligation to pay alimony does not go away just because the paying spouse gets married. However, if you get remarried, you will not be entitled to receive alimony anymore.

I’m Paying Alimony. How Can I End Long-Term Spousal Support?

Have you learned that your ex-spouse is doing quite well after your divorce? Have they settled into a job that pays well? Spousal support is only intended to help spouses who need it. You can ask the court to modify your existing order.

Are Spousal Support and Child Support the Same Thing?

No. Spousal support and child support are two entirely different things. Just because your spouse pays child support does not necessarily mean that you will also be entitled to spousal support. Child support payments are only to be used for the benefit of your child. Spousal support payments are intended to get you back on your feet.

How Are Spousal Support Payments Taxed?

There are incredible tax benefits for spousal support until December 31, 2018. Under the current law, spouses who pay alimony are allowed to deduct payments from income. This can significantly reduce a paying spouse’s adjusted gross income and tax liabilities. At the start of the new year, however, alimony payments will be taxable to both the paying and receiving spouses. You can avoid this harsh new law by finalizing your divorce by December 31, 2018.

Call Our Beverly Hills Spousal Support Attorneys Today

Do you need help understanding your rights and obligations for spousal support? Contact Berenji & Associates to speak with our skilled legal team. Our Beverly Hills spousal support attorneys have over 25 years of combined experience. We have helped families across Los Angeles County navigate their most personal and intimate family disputes. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more.