California Court Discusses Factors Weighed in Determining Spousal Support

Many married couples share finances, despite the fact that they have disparate incomes in 2023. If a couple with unbalanced incomes decides to divorce, however, it may leave one spouse without sufficient means to support themselves. Given the high costs of housing in San Diego County, may couples are having difficulty affording to live in San Diego even with two incomes.  When the spouses separate, this means two housing expenses and other expenses not incurred when cohabitating.  In such instances, the Courts may find it appropriate to grant spousal support. In a recent California case, the Court discussed the factors considered in determining whether to grant support. If you intend to end your marriage, it is wise to talk to a San Diego divorce attorney about your options. This can be an extremely contentious area in a family law case!

History of the Case

It is reported that in 2015 the husband and wife separated after more than 20 years of marriage. The husband initially agreed to pay spousal and child support, as the wife was unemployed and he owned an electrical business. In 2019, the husband retired and requested a modification of spousal support. The Court reduced the temporary support obligation to zero but stated that it could be reinstated if the wife’s counsel discovered the husband’s ability to pay.

The dissolution matter went to trial to resolve the issues of spousal support and the division of assets. A forensic accountant testified on behalf of the wife, providing an analysis of the husband’s income available for support in the years 2016-2019. The trial Court denied the wife permanent spousal support but granted her temporary support for a specific period. The husband filed objections to the Trial Court’s rulings, but the Trial Court declined to address them. The wife submitted a proposed judgment, which the Trial Court signed. The husband appealed the decision.

Grounds for Granting Temporary Spousal Support

On appeal, the husband challenged the award of retroactive temporary spousal support, among other things. Specifically, he argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the Trial Court’s retroactive temporary spousal support award, claiming a lack of evidence regarding his ability to pay and the wife’s need during the specified period. However, the Court found ample evidence to support its decision.

The Court explained that temporary spousal support aims to maintain the status quo until trial, and the Courts have broad discretion in awarding it based on the requesting party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. Here, the Trial Court had evidence suggesting the husband had the ability to pay support during the specified period, including his 2019 tax documents showing total wages of $436,410. Additionally, the Court considered the wife’s need, which was established by her testimony of unemployment for ten years and a luxurious lifestyle during the marriage. Thus, substantial evidence supported the Trial Court’s decision to award temporary spousal support to the wife.

Meet with a Seasoned California Divorce Attorney

When the end of a marriage causes one party to suffer financial hardship, the Court may find that spousal support is warranted. If you question whether you or your spouse would be entitled to spousal support in a divorce action, it is prudent to meet with an attorney. The seasoned San Diego divorce attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC can assess the facts of your case and aid you in pursuing the best result available. You can reach us through our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential conference.

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