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San Jose Family Law Attorney Answers Question on Paying Spousal support in a Divorce
Paying alimony is not a foregone conclusion in any divorce proceeding. In fact, the American Bar Association recently estimated that alimony is awarded in only about 15 percent of all divorce cases in the U.S. This number is a significant reduction from numbers in decades past. This decrease is largely attributed to the rise of households where both spouses work outside the home. Because both spouses are gainfully employed, alimony is less likely to be awarded. However, the court must utilize several factors in order to come to a conclusion on alimony that is just and equitable for both parties whether both parties work outside the home or not.
In California the court will look at several factors when determining if alimony is necessary and, if so, how much and for how long of a duration. These factors include the earning capacity of each spouse and the skills of the party who would be receiving the support.
The needs of the supported ex-spouse and whether or not they would need to get a job would negatively impact the children is also considered. A spouse who has been out of the job market for many years is more likely to be entitled to spousal support as their workplace skills are out of date. Additionally, since they have provided care for the household and children, their absence may become a considerable detriment to the children’s welfare.
When considering spousal support after the Judgment of Dissolution has been entered the court is required to weigh numerous factors (SEE Family Code §4320(a) – (n)) including whether a spouse contributed to the other spouse’s ability to earn a degree or obtain a
higher professional status. The age and health of both spouses may also be relevant issues. Family court judges are also required to consider whether any domestic abuse took place during the course of the marriage. The ability of the supported party to become self supporting at a later date is likewise an important factor. Family courts similarly have the latitude to consider any additional components that will help them arrive at a fair and equitable solution.
As any San Jose divorce attorney can attest, there is no standard formula for figuring whether alimony is necessary after the entry of Judgment, for how long it should continue and in what amount it should be paid. Before the Judgment is entered many counties in
California follow a guideline formula that sets the temporary (pending Judgment) spousal support at some level based upon the respective incomes of the two parties. Whether the support is labeled temporary (before the Judgment) or permanent (after the Judgment) much of the calculation is left up to the court’s discretion.
Thomas Stutzman, a San Jose family lawyer for over 35 years, notes that every divorce case is unique and will require an accordingly unique approach to settlement. The judge may order that the supported spouse should receive payments for the rest of their life. More frequently, the supported spouse will receive such payments only for a reasonable amount of time, during which term they are expected to find a way to become self supporting.
San Jose family law attorney Thomas Stutzman can also help clients find ways to end or amend alimony arrangements. Again, no hard and fast laws exist that dictate precisely when it is appropriate to change or end alimony payments. Nonetheless, a material change in the financial circumstances of either party, like a new job that greatly increases the income of the party receiving support or a job loss by the party paying the support, may warrant the court’s review of the situation.
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