Along with child custody, spousal maintenance is one of the most contentious family law proceedings. People dislike paying spousal support to a soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, it is still a court order, so payment and receipt of alimony are heavily dependent on the facts of the case and how your California Family Law Attorney argues for it.

Everything You Need To Know About Spousal Support Laws In California

Spousal support can be argued during a divorce, legal separation, or even a nullity case. It can also be discussed after the divorce or legal separation case, as long as the court retains the power to compel spousal support.

During the pendency of a nullity case, the family court can grant a request for interim alimony. This is because the nullity may or may not be given. The court may instead award a divorce or legal separation.

Does The Court Discriminate Between Genders?

In California, family law courts are prohibited from discriminating against women in any aspect of a divorce or legal separation proceeding, including spousal support. In addition, biases based on gender are prohibited under federal and state law in the United States and California.

Even though judges are expected to undergo training, they are human, and innate bias or discrimination may influence their decisions. Before going forward, it is beneficial to employ a California Family Law Attorney who knows their way with these biases.

How Long Will An Ex-Spouse Have To Pay Spousal Support?

The amount of time a spouse may be obliged to pay alimony is determined by several criteria. First and foremost, the length of a marriage is critical. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the court will retain competence to order spousal maintenance for marriages lasting more than ten years.

Notably, the Family Code specifically allows the payor of alimony to request that the court terminate its power to order spousal support later by bringing a post-judgment modification proceeding, despite the fact that the court will retain jurisdiction to order spousal support forever when a long term marriage exists.

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There is a rebuttable presumption that alimony should be paid for one-half (1/2) of the total period of the marriage for marriages under ten years. For example, if a couple has been married for four years, the presumption is that support should be paid for a maximum of two years. Second, the facts and circumstances of the case may influence how long spousal support is imposed.

That said, not all cases are the same. So, consult your California Family Lawyer on the possible payouts you might be able to get when successful.

Is Alimony Taxed?

Unlike child support, which is not taxable to the recipient and not deducted as income to the person responsible for paying it, spousal support may be taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible to the person responsible for paying it for state tax purposes.

For federal tax purposes, spousal support is no longer deductible.

Can I Modify The Spousal Support Order?

In the vast majority of cases, the answer is yes. The court may enter a modification as long as the court has the authority to compel spousal support and the current spousal support order is not "non-modifiable."

However, some change of circumstance must be demonstrated to merit modification, such as a change of work for either spouse, a significant change in either party's income, the loss of health insurance, or other comparable circumstances.

If the parties agree that an alimony award is "non-modifiable," case law states that the court cannot change the amount under any circumstances. The amount can only be changed if both parties agree.

Discussing your options with your California Divorce Attorney will help you discover all the possible options for your current family law concerns.

What Happens When The Recipient Remarries?

Under California law, spousal support can end in several "automatic" ways:

  • Spousal support will be terminated if a support payor or beneficiary dies.
  • Spousal support will stop on a specified date agreed upon by the parties or the court's order.
  • Unless the parties expressly agreed in their divorce Marital Settlement Agreement that spousal support would continue to be paid even if the recipient of spousal support remarries, spousal support will no longer be payable to that spouse.

If you're having trouble looking for documents regarding this issue, contact one of our prescreened California Family Law Attorneys to help you.

What Happens When The Beneficiary Cohabits With Someone Else?

When the beneficiary of spousal support begins cohabiting with another individual who is not a bona fide "roommate," a rebuttable presumption affects spousal support.

So, if a spousal support recipient begins cohabiting with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé, the support recipient's support needs are presumed to be reduced. In this instance, the support obligor can submit a motion to reduce, limit, or terminate spousal support.

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Even if they cohabitate with another individual, a spousal support beneficiary may oppose a request to terminate or lower spousal support.

If the receiving spouse presents evidence that they and their new relationship do not share any expenses and pay for everything separately, the presumption would be rebutted because the supported party's financial circumstances have not changed.

Consulting a California Divorce Lawyer will help you know where you stand in your current alimony case.

Is Domestic Abuse A Factor In Alimony Orders?

Several recent revisions in the legislation have addressed this issue:

  • Domestic abuse during the marriage is a component that the court must consider while assessing permanent spousal support, as long as the domestic violence is "recorded."
  • Under Family Code 4325, there is a rebuttable presumption that a spouse who has been convicted of domestic violence against their spouse during the previous five years is not entitled to spousal maintenance.

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