Spousal Support Lawyers in Los Angeles, Helping Clients Receive Fair Divorce Settlements
Spousal support is one of the many issues that must be decided in California divorces. Even when both soon-to-be-former partners work, it’s often the case that one spouse must provide financial support for the other. This can also occur during a legal separation, but alimony court orders are more frequently part of a divorce settlement. That means these issues often get ironed out in court, but this shouldn’t be your default option when your marriage ends. A spousal support lawyer in Los Angeles may be able to help you reach a fair outcome without the combative nature of the courtroom.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we strive to help our clients avoid trial and understand California spousal support laws. Considering how clear the Golden State makes alimony laws — even going as far as creating a formula to determine support payments — there’s often little need to go the route of litigation. This will obviously differ based on unique situations, but a free consultation at Kim Mediation and Law Center can give you a better idea of the best way to move forward. Call or contact us today to speak with a Los Angeles spousal support attorney that can help.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is a payment that one former spouse makes to another in order to help cover their expenses. This is also known as alimony. While this financial support typically refers to payments between a former married couple, a domestic partner support order could also be issued involving individuals in a domestic partnership. Such support payments are also often required in instances of legal separation and domestic violence restraining orders. Regardless of the specifics of a situation, those who are required to pay spousal support make their payments so that the marital standard of living can be maintained.
For instance, imagine a situation where one parent stays in the workforce while the other remains home to watch their children. If this goes on for years, the at-home spouse will experience a significant gap in their work history. There’s also a good chance their career skills could become obsolete, and as time goes by, the capability of easily finding a job diminishes. This could prove disastrous if the partners split up and there is no spousal support agreement in place. One person would likely go on with their life with minimal interruption, but the earning capacity of the other spouse may be fully removed.
Who Has to Pay Spousal Support?
Historically, spousal support obligations have fallen on the males in relationships. This was merely due to traditional gender roles that often had the man working while his wife stayed at home. Of course, such traditional gender roles are now obsolete. One spouse typically has to pay alimony to their former partner after a separation, but gender plays little to no role in the decisions of who will have to pay spousal support. Such decisions essentially come down to who earns more in the couple.
Spousal support payments are geared towards maintaining the marital standard of living for both individuals. Courts do not feel as if a person’s quality of life should suffer due to a separation. This is why an alimony agreement will be part of nearly every divorce proceeding that finds its way to trial. Of course, it’s not necessary to allow a judge to make such decisions. A Los Angeles alimony attorney can help you identify an appropriate level of support, negotiate a fair settlement, file the appropriate legal papers, and move on with your life.
This can be done through mediation or by establishing an attorney-client relationship, but regardless of the path you choose, reaching your own agreement is typically by far the preferable choice.
Temporary vs Long-Term Spousal Support
When you’re going through a separation, you’ll typically hear the terms temporary spousal support and long-term spousal support. These are not complex legal terms. They merely focus on the length of time that a financial support order will remain in place. In many situations, the supported spouse will receive both forms of alimony — just at different points of their separation. Recognizing the difference between these is an essential step for understanding your rights and responsibilities.
What Is Temporary Spousal Support?
Temporary alimony is what a supported spouse receives prior to finalization of their separation. This often comes in the form of a court order meant to provide financial support during the legal process of separation.
What Is Long-Term Spousal Support?
A long-term alimony order is the final support order given once a divorce is finalized. It’s important to note that it’s not typically “permanent.” In fact, such an order usually only lasts half the length of the marriage. This means a six-year marriage will often only result in alimony payments for three years.
This changes once a marriage surpasses the 10-year mark. Unlike temporary alimony and marriages that last less than a decade, there is no specific duration of payments under the law for these long-term relationships. This means spousal support could last indefinitely. While seeking the services of a Los Angeles spousal support lawyer is always wise, it’s particularly necessary in these situations.
Can I Modify a Spousal Support Order?
Whether a temporary or long-term alimony agreement/order is in place, there are situations where modification is possible. This is the case unless the former spouses initially agreed to no modifications or extensions. Absent of such an agreement, there are multiple ways to modify Los Angeles spousal support. In each situation, it’s necessary to show that a change of circumstances has occurred. For instance, payments to the individual receiving spousal support could cease if:
The recipient of payments has remarried
You’re at least 65 and ready to retire
The paying spouse experiences a decrease in income they cannot control (e.g., serious illness)
The recipient’s income has increased
Each of these situations can result in the termination of a spousal support order. The courts may also consider a modification — sometimes even a temporary modification — when a material change in circumstances occurs. A common situation that leads to such modifications is the loss of a job by the payer.
One important thing to remember is that California courts want individuals to be self supporting. If the spouse receiving payments experiences a change in circumstances that makes spousal support unnecessary, a modification may be appropriate. Regardless of the situation, do not decide unilaterally to stop making payments.
Speak with a Los Angeles spousal support attorney before doing anything.
Can Marital Misconduct Affect Alimony?
California is a no-fault divorce state. This means many forms of misconduct are not relevant to divorce proceedings. For instance, whether a partner commits infidelity will typically have no effect on child support, alimony payments, property division, and other issues. Many Californians opt for divorce litigation because they think misconduct by their spouse will work in their favor, but this is rarely the case.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, someone who commits domestic violence may not be entitled to support they’d otherwise receive. Such a situation can also have a major effect on child support and custody. While mediation and a collaborative approach are both ideal during a divorce, going to court is typically the right move when domestic violence is involved.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reach a fair agreement for all parties in a case when one spouse is scared of the other. You may very well be entitled to long-term support — and there may be no legal reasoning you wouldn’t receive it — but this is still something a judge should decide when violence has been involved.
Do I Need an Alimony Lawyer?
Many people wonder if they even need a spousal support attorney in Los Angeles. Alimony is calculated via a formula the public has access to. This leaves many individuals thinking they can reach their own agreement. While this is possible, having an experienced attorney on your side can still prove beneficial. For instance, imagine you spend a large amount of time figuring out alimony payments as part of a divorce settlement — but when you submit the agreement to the courts, a judge doesn’t approve the settlement?
This can occur due to the complexities of California divorce law. Divorce settlements must meet certain conditions. An attorney can make sure your agreement satisfies statutory requirements. Additionally, a legal professional can handle all the paperwork and document submission that frequently proves tedious and time-consuming for those inexperienced in the legal field. Of course, issues also oftentimes arise when former partners don’t fully understand their rights and responsibilities during a divorce proceeding.
You can avoid many of these issues by simply speaking with a family law firm before moving forward with your separation or divorce case. At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we can help you reach an agreement for both temporary and long-term alimony. Even if you and your former partner agree on absolutely everything, a Los Angeles spousal support attorney can make sure your metaphorical ducks are in a row and expedite the entire process so you can get on with your life.
Contact a Spousal Support Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
The divorce process is not an exciting endeavor for anyone. It far too often leads to adversarial interactions and major decisions being made at a California court’s discretion. Spousal support is one of the major issues arising out of divorce, but it doesn’t have to be a major point of contention. State laws are very clear on both the level and duration of financial support that one spouse must pay to the other. These guidelines are not set in stone, however, and courts prefer when former partners can reach a spousal support agreement on their own. We can help you do this at Kim Mediation and Law Center.
There’s no reason to make the divorce process more difficult than necessary. While courts can certainly grant a spousal support award in litigation, it’s possible to save both time and money by opting for mediation or a collaborative law approach. If it turns out that these cooperative processes aren’t working in a situation, no one loses their right to seek financial support court orders from a judge. Considering the many benefits of reaching a mutually beneficial outcome outside of court, though, you should at least speak with a legal professional to better understand your situation. And since you can sit down for a free consultation at Kim Mediation and Law Center, you have nothing to lose by seeking advice.