Are you entitled to Spousal Support? - The Men's Legal Center


Are you entitled to Spousal Support?

If there is a large discrepancy between the spouse at the time of separation, the lower-income spouse may be entitled to spousal support. In California, the law triages marriages into short-term (under 10 years) and long-term (over 10 years) marriages.

There are two unusual points about spousal support in short-term marriages: (1) The court is allowed to use a Guideline Software and (2) the spousal support will last half the length of the marriage. The court is entitled to use California Support Guideline software to calculate temporary support but not for Support at the time of trial.

At the time of trial or post-trial modification, the judge must do a more nuanced analysis using the many factors listed in Family Code 4320 such as the health of the parties, their marketable skills, and individual assets. Second, in short-term marriages, the court will award support for half the length of the marriage.

Often the payor in short-term marriages is prejudiced by the mechanistic use of Guideline Software in awarding temporary support. Often the family court, for efficiency, will automatically make the temporary support level, the payment level for half the length of the marriage. The mechanistic use of the Guideline Software does not tell the whole story. The supported spouse may have marketable skills that have not been exploited or may have gone to school during the marriage. A Family Code 4320 analysis is more equitable to both parties.

In a long-term marriage, the court is not authorized to issue a termination date to the spousal support payments barring an agreement between the parties. Depending on the age of the recipient, if the support recipient does not have marketable skills, the payor needs to push for the recipient to put together a training program to become self-supporting.

It is better for both parties to face this issue of the recipient obtaining marketable skills sooner rather than years later. The payor should ask the family court to order a vocational evaluation asap especially if the supported spouse has been out of the workforce for several years.

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