In 2015, the New York Times reported that, while divorce rates were falling in many groups, they were rising among seniors. According to a Bowling Green State University study reported by usnews.com, the divorce rate among seniors doubled between 1990 and 2010. Divorcing seniors face their own unique set of issues. One of these is the interaction of spousal support and retirement. A recent ruling from the Fourth Appellate District Court offers an important reminder that, just because you are seeking spousal support, that doesn’t diminish your right to retire.
Romantic relationships can take many varieties and forms. While many partners desire to ensure the comfort and well-being of their partners, what happens when one partner allegedly enters into an oral contract to support the other for life? That was the issue presented to the First Appellate District recently, which upheld a lower court ruling that found the absence of a valid contract because the case lacked proof of a “meeting of the minds.”
California has operated under a “no-fault” standard for divorce cases since Governor Ronald Reagan signed the country’s first no-fault divorce law in 1970. Since that time, spouses may seek a dissolution of their marriage in California as long as they meet the jurisdictional requirements and allege that the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown due to irreconcilable differences. As a recent Southern California case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal demonstrates, the standard for deciding spousal support is not the same. In litigating spousal support, the parties may offer evidence of fault, especially if the at-fault party is the spouse seeking support.
In family law, as with many areas of the law, it pays to pay close attention to “the fine print.” Each detail and every term of any legal agreement into which you enter has the potential to have a profound impact on you. For example, if you agree in a marital settlement to pay alimony until your ex-spouse’s death or your ex-spouse’s remarriage, the law and the courts will hold you to that. As a result, if you want to end your alimony payments, you’ll need clear proof of an actual marriage, not just evidence that your ex is holding herself out as married to her new partner. That was what ultimately defeated one Southern California husband’s case, recently decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
In family law cases, as with many areas of life, one can sometimes lose an individual battle but still achieve a larger outcome of success in the end. In a recent example, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s ruling that raised an ex-husband’s spousal support obligation to make up for the man’s declining receipt of future military pension payments. The ex-wife was not allowed to receive this money as spousal support because the law doesn’t allow judges to increase spousal support just to make up for lost community property interests. The ex-wife was entitled to receive this money, but it just could not be in the form of spousal support.
A recent case from the Fourth District Court of Appeal serves as a reminder of the factual and legal intricacies that can be involved in the issues of cohabitation and the termination of spousal support. In this case, the ex-husband had ample evidence that the ex-wife had a boyfriend who resided primarily with her and that the couple were in a romantic/sexual relationship that included sleeping together, vacationing together, and spending holidays and birthdays together. This, the appeals court ruled, was not enough. To bring an end to his spousal support payments, the husband needed to offer evidence regarding whether the wife’s relationship was “akin to marriage” in involving a mutual commitment to support each other, and he also needed to establish the extent to which the new relationship affected the wife’s need for spousal support.
One way to resolve your divorce case is to agree to a stipulated judgment of dissolution. You should be very cautious about agreeing to a stipulated judgment without consulting counsel first, however, since doing so may involve your surrendering certain rights you might otherwise have. In a recent case originating in Orange County, that’s exactly what happened. In the Fourth District Court of Appeal‘s ruling, the husband could not pursue a termination of his spousal support, even though the statutes allow for cessation after a recipient spouse remarries, since he had contracted to continue paying even if his ex-wife remarried.
A Palm Springs wife, who who pled guilty to attacking her estranged husband with a deadly weapon, was turned away by both a Southern California trial court and the Fourth District Court of Appeal in her attempt to secure an award of spousal support. The original crime’s sensationalistic and graphic facts drew coverage from the news media, but the less publicized recent support case is a noteworthy one in terms of illustrating the impact of domestic violence on future spousal support litigation.
In your spousal support case, there are many elements that go into achieving a successful outcome, whether you are seeking support or defending against your ex-spouse’s demand for support. As with many disputes in family law, one of the most important factors is having testimony that is more credible than your ex-spouse’s. One example is a recent case originating in Orange County, where the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled against a wife, stating that the trial judge in her case was free to credit or ignore the testimony of her expert witness, even if that testimony was “undisputed.”
The California Family Code devotes an entire section to the regulation of child support. Under the law, a parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life. Therefore, when a couple seeks to separate and divorce, the court will attempt to fashion a child support arrangement that suits the family’s circumstances. In order to do so, courts are required to consult and apply the Family Code’s Statewide Uniform Guideline. This is a crucial part of a divorce case that will ultimately dictate the parties’ financial interests going forward. To protect your family’s legal and financial rights, you are strongly encouraged to contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the case as possible.
Under the mandatory formula for calculating child support, courts will look at each parent’s “income from whatever source derived.” This includes a host of sources, including but not limited to “commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, and workers’ compensation benefits,” among many other items. The statute clearly contemplates additional sources of income not identified therein. In fact, at least one California case has pointed out that the codified items are “by way of illustration only.”