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Los Angeles spousal support attorneyIf you’re going through a divorce in Los Angeles you may have questions about paying or receiving spousal support. If you need assistance, call Los Angeles spousal support attorney Hossein Berenji for a free consultation.

At Berenji & Associates, we understand all the factors the Los Angeles family courts consider when deciding whether to make a spousal support award. If you are an ex-spouse seeking support, it is important to have an attorney that understands how to position your facts so you receive the proper support. If you are an ex-spouse being asked to pay support, it is critical that we discuss your case to make sure you do not pay more than what is required under the law.

Spousal Support in California

It surprises many people to learn that spousal support is relatively uncommon. Only about 10 to 15% of divorces or separations result in obligations to pay spousal support. Given the misconceptions around spousal support, we put together the following information.

Under what circumstances does someone have to pay spousal support?

When a couple is divorced or legally separated in Los Angeles County, a court may order one spouse to pay the other a specified amount of money on a regular basis – usually monthly. These payments are called “spousal support” or “alimony.”

A spouse, former spouse, or former domestic partner can ask the court for support in a case involving:

  • divorce
  • legal separation
  • annulment
  • a domestic violence restraining order

Payments, while the case is still in process, are made under a “temporary spousal support order” or “temporary partner support order.”

When a divorce or separation is final, the relevant order is for permanent or long-term spousal or partner support.

How much will the monthly spousal support payments be?

In Los Angeles, many judges use a formula to calculate the amount of temporary spousal support. To find out how the formula works in your county, click here to find your county and then read the local Family Court rules.

When making a final spousal or partner support order, a judge may not just apply a formula. Instead, the judge must consider all the factors listed in section 4320 of the California Family Code. These factors include:

  • the length of the marriage or domestic partnership
  • the needs of each person based on their standard of living during the marriage or partnership
  • what each person can afford to pay to maintain this standard of living
  • whether having a job would make it too difficult for a parent to care for the parent’s children
  • the age of each person
  • the health of each person
  • joint and individual debts and property
  • whether one spouse or partner helped the other obtain an education, training, or professional license
  • whether the relationship involved domestic violence
  • whether one person’s career was affected by unemployment or the need to take care of the couple’s children or home
  • the federal and state tax impact of spousal support

Can we just agree on how much the payments will be?

Yes. You can agree to the amount and duration of payments, either on your own or with the help of a family law facilitator or mediator. This agreement is called a stipulation.

However, before you reach a final agreement you should understand your rights and options. Don’t let yourself be bullied into accepting less than you deserve or into paying more than the law requires. If your former spouse retained an attorney, you should consider acquiring legal representation to assure that your interests are protected.

Once you reach an agreement, it can be put into the form of an order that a judge can sign, so that it’s enforceable later.

How long do I have to pay spousal support for?

If a marriage lasts for less than 10 years, spousal support will be presumed to be required for no longer than half the length of the marriage.

A marriage that lasts 10 years or more is considered a marriage of “long-duration.” With long-duration marriages, a court may not set a definite termination date for spousal support at the time of the trial on the issue. This does not necessarily mean, however, that a former spouse in a long-duration marriage will get lifetime support.

A person paying support is entitled to retire at 65 and can’t be forced to work beyond that age in order to support a former spouse. A person paying support who is forced to take early retirement may seek an order from the court allowing support payments to stop.

What if my ex-spouse gets remarried?

Unless the parties agree otherwise, spousal support will normally end when the person getting support remarries or registers a new domestic partnership.

What if my ex-spouse is intentionally avoiding work?

There’s nothing you can do to force your former spouse or domestic partner to get a job. However, you can ask the court to lower his or her support if he or she isn’t making an effort to seek employment.

If you can prove that your ex is deliberately unemployed, the court may impute income based on what your ex could earn, and base your support obligation on that imputed income. This will obviously make your support obligation lower.

What if the spouse is intentionally avoiding remarriage?

You certainly can’t force your ex to remarry in order to terminate your spousal support obligations. However, if you can show that your ex is cohabiting with a lover you can ask a court to reduce or eliminate your obligation to pay spousal support.

What if I make less money?

If your financial situation changes – for example, if you lose your job or have your hours reduced or have to switch to a job that pays less – you can ask the court for modification of your spousal support obligation.

It’s important to ask for this modification right away as soon as your situation changes. Any change in your obligation to pay will date from the day you file papers seeking the change – not from the date your financial situation changed. If you are making less money, speak with a Los Angeles spousal support attorney right away.

How do I terminate long-term spousal support?

You can ask the court to terminate long-term support when your ex is able to become self-supporting.

Does my spouse’s conduct during marriage affect spousal support?
California is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. This means that a Los Angeles family court will not take into account adultery by either party when awarding, or not awarding, spousal support.

However, as noted above, domestic abuse is a factor in awarding spousal support.

How can I learn more about spousal support?

To learn more about spousal support, you can visit this page sponsored by the Judicial Branch of California. You can also review the other pages on our website and contact our office.

Call An Experienced Los Angeles Spousal Support Attorney

If you have questions about spousal support, call Berenji & Associates today for a free consultation. Our qualified divorce lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case and determine the best outcome. Spousal support can be complicated and you greatly increase your chances of a positive outcome by hiring a qualified Los Angeles spousal support attorney. We look forward to your call.