California has both temporary and permanent spousal support. Temporary spousal support is awarded during the pendency of a divorce. Permanent spousal support is awarded as part of a final divorce decree.
Permanent spousal support is also called long-term spousal support in California and is not necessarily “permanent.” However, it often lasts several years. Spouses may agree on a support amount, or the court may determine an amount based on the circumstances of the case.
Factors that Influence a Permanent Spousal Support Order
The court commonly uses permanent spousal support to:
- Allow a lesser-earning spouse to maintain their marital standard of living while acquiring the skills or training necessary to provide for themselves; or
- Provide support for an aged or ill spouse who cannot reenter the workplace.
Gender is irrelevant in a spousal support award. However, the court does consider the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, health, and earning capacity of both spouses;
- The marital standard of living enjoyed by the spouses;
- Whether one spouse sacrificed a career to support their spouse’s career goals;
- Whether the payor spouse has the ability to pay support;
- Whether the payee spouse requires support;
- The spouse’s financial assets and liabilities;
- Any evidence of domestic violence;
- Whether the requesting spouse can maintain gainful employment and care for the children of the marriage; and
- Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.
Once the court decides to award permanent spousal support, they must determine the payment duration.
The Length of the Marriage
The length of the marriage is crucial when making a permanent spousal support award in California. For a marriage of fewer than ten years, an award is set at up to half the length of the marriage.
There is no set timeframe for long-term marriages (marriages of ten or more years). Long periods of separation may count against a spouse claiming a long-term marriage.
Modification of Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent spousal support can be modified upon a showing of a substantial and material change in circumstances since the previous order. However, the court will not modify a non-modifiable agreement between the parties. A spousal support award for a specific period cannot be modified or extended once the modification deadline has expired.
It is important to note that spouses who can become self-supporting are expected to do so within a reasonable amount of time. There is a court notice called a Gavron Warning that must go out to these spouses before any modification or termination of spousal support.
Termination of Permanent Spousal Support
Spousal support is terminated upon the death of the supported spouse. It may be terminated upon the following substantial and material change in circumstances:
- The payor is over sixty-five and wants to retire;
- The payee has remarried;
- The payor has become seriously ill; or
- The payee’s income has significantly increased.
If you would like to know if you qualify for a modification or termination of your spousal support obligation, contact an experienced Los Angeles spousal support attorney today.
Contact an Experienced California Spousal Support Attorney Today
Fernandez & Karney can offer you practical, honest advice about spousal support awards in California. Whether you require temporary or permanent support or are concerned about how such an award may affect your ability to maintain financial independence, we can help you.
There are ways to negotiate a lump sum or property settlement instead of support. Discuss these and other options with a skilled attorney at Fernandez & Karney. Make your appointment for a confidential consultation now.