The State Bar of California

Spousal Support

Spousal Support

If you are facing a divorce, you may be concerned about supporting yourself. In a marriage, courts continue to uphold a spouse's obligation to support a former spouse where it can be shown the payments

  • correct an imbalance in incomes
  • address a financial need or
  • serve to keep parties during the divorce in standards of living similar to that enjoyed during marriage.

A court may find one or more of these factors exist where there is a need to support a spouse until he or she can be trained with employable skills. Additional factors under California law that may be considered in determining support include such things as a history of domestic violence, special needs of dependent children, and the length of the marriage.

At the law firm of MacKenzie & Associates, our clients gain the benefit of Mr. MacKenzie's advanced legal training in tax and finances (he has received an MBA) to fully analyze financial issues of support and property division. An equitable division of marital property can go a long way to ensuring that the parties have what they need to begin the next phase of their life. When small, family-owned businesses are part of the marital estate, we have the skills to that ensure a proper estimate of their value is given.

In some cases, a spouse has not been working for several years because he or she has stayed home to care for the children. The California courts have ruled that both parents must try to become self-supporting without the aid of spousal support. This means that often a parent must return to work or go to school so that they will be more able to support themselves (and any minor children) in the future.

Often, a court will order a Vocational Evaluation in order to prepare a plan for how the nonworking spouse will re-enter the workforce. MacKenzie & Associates is experienced in working with both the working and non-working spouses while undergoing a Vocational Evaluation. If you are paying spousal support, especially in a long-term marriage, you need to make sure that your spouse is on track to become self-supporting. If you are currently receiving spousal support, you need to make sure that you are taking the right steps so that your spousal support is not cut off earlier than you expect.

Call us at (510) 537-7200 today or contact us online to discuss your options regarding spousal support.

The calculation of temporary spousal support is based on a mathematical formula although there are often issues of self-employed individuals hiding income or individuals unwilling to work. In contrast, permanent/long term spousal support is based on 14 factors. For this reason, an experienced family law attorney often obtains a more favorable spousal support award to the payor, or the payee, than either a self-represented party or an unexperienced attorney can obtain.

  1. Temporary Support

    During the pendency of a dissolution proceeding, the Court may order temporary spousal support for one party. Temporary spousal support is based upon a mathematical formula which is available in software called DissoMaster™. Generally speaking, the basic formula for calculating spousal support is 40% of the payor’s net monthly income less one-half the receiving spouse’s net monthly income. There are other factors such as property taxes, hardships, or other deductions that will affect the overall temporary spousal support order.

  2. Long-Term/Permanent Spousal Support

    The Court may NOT base long-term spousal support upon a DissoMaster Calculation. The Court must consider 14 factors found in Family Code Section 4320 in calculating long-term/permanent spousal support. The goal of spousal support post judgment is for the supported party to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.

    Generally speaking, the Court finds half the length of the marriage to be a reasonable period of time, except in cases of a long-term marriage. The Court has the discretion to make an order for spousal support longer or shorter than half the length of the marriage based upon several factors. A long term marriage is generally 10 years or more, but it is within the Court’s discretion to consider a marriage shorter than 10 years to be long term.

  3. Other Considerations

    Because the goal of spousal support is for both parties to be self-supporting, the Court can make a “Seek Work Order.” This order usually requires the non-working party to submit at least 10 applications for jobs every week and register with at least 5 temporary employment agencies, including One Stop Center in Alameda County.

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