San Diego Spousal Support: The Basics: 2012

California and San Diego divorce laws attempt to assure that both spouses are able to resolve their spousal support issues in a divorce or legal separation action. Many individuals experience dire financial fallout from a legal separation or divorce in San Diego, especially if they do not have full time employment and have been supported by the spouse either throughout their marriage or in recent months. An order of spousal support can help to make the transition easier for the non working or less earning spouse.

Types of Spousal Support
Spousal support can by temporary or permanent. Temporary spousal support orders can be obtained before the divorce is finalized or can be issued for a specific time following the final decree in which case they are called permanent spousal support orders as after the judgment is entered. While some decrees order support “permanently” this is almost always modifiable and many decrees include a “Gavron warning” in which the Court orders the supported spouse to become self-supporting in a reasonable time period. Spousal support orders may also be modified if circumstances significantly change for either party.

Factors Considered by the Court in Determining Spousal Support
California Family Code section 4320 which is used in San Diego Superior Court lists the factors the court must consider in awarding spousal support. These factors include, but are not limited to, the standard of living the couple had during the marriage, the length of the marriage, each party’s contribution or potential contribution to that standard of living, child care obligations, marital debts and property, both parties’ age and health, whether one spouse helped the other get an education, incidents of domestic violence, whether either spouse’s work history was affected by time off to meet domestic responsibilities, and tax consequences. The Judge will consider each spouse’s marketable skills as well as the job market for those skills. The court will also consider the approximate time and cost for the party seeking support to become self-supporting. The parties may also agree to a spousal support agreement which the Judge then approves.

Payment and Collection
The most common form of payment is by wage assignment. The Court issues a wage assignment form directing the employer to send support payments directly to the payee. The employer then has 10 days to begin sending the payments. If there is also a child support order, the Local Child Support Agency (DCSS in San Diego) may also help in collecting. However, in cases administered by the LCSA, child support orders take precedence. So, if the payment is incomplete, the child support is paid first.

Special Circumstances
Spousal support can be affected by special circumstances. For example, while alimony has traditionally ended when the payee remarries, there have been recent cases in California where cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex has resulted in a reduction or even termination of support. In the current economy, unemployment and a shrinking job market can affect either party.

Whether you are negotiating spousal support or facing special circumstances, a qualified San Diego divorce lawyer can help you obtain a resolution in a timely manner. For a free confidential consultation about spousal support or other family law issues, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online.