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.”
In most divorce cases, one party will seek some amount of monthly spousal support. However, it is not automatically granted to the requesting spouse. In fact, eligibility for spousal support is dictated in large part by statutory provisions. Under Section 4320 of the California Family Code, courts are required to review a list of specified factors in order to determine whether (and to what extent) spouses are entitled to financial maintenance in divorce. Since the judge’s decision as to support will likely affect the parties’ financial status going forward, it is extremely important that you consult with an experienced San Diego family law attorney who will work to protect your interests and legal rights.
A recent case illustrates the significance of understanding how the Family Code applies to a party’s request for spousal support in divorce. Here, the couple began living together (in the wife’s home) prior to their marriage. While they both contributed to living expenses, the wife owned the house separately. The husband had given the wife a wedding ring valued at $40,000, and the couple got married in January 2006. She is a physician, and he worked, until 2007, as a human resources manager at Home Depot. He was laid off from his job in 2008. Once the parties were married, the wife signed a deed granting title to the house to the husband, for the alleged purpose of refinancing the home at a better interest rate. He later re-conveyed the house to himself and the wife as “joint tenants.”
A family court judge retains a certain amount of discretion when deciding whether to order spousal support in a divorce case. Of course, the court must follow statutory guidelines when making that determination. Section 4330 of the California Family Code sets forth the court’s authority to issue an award of spousal support, and Section 4320 identifies a slew of factors that courts must consider and weigh. It is important to understand that the purpose of spousal support varies from case to case, including whether the need exists and to what extent. To be sure that your rights are protected when it comes to any matter arising in a divorce proceeding, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced family law lawyer in the local San Diego area.
Every divorce case presents a unique set of circumstances. In weighing the facts and equities of each case, a court may decide to award long-term and/or open-ended financial support, support for a short or finite number of years, or none at all. Integral to any award or lack thereof is the court’s review of the statutory factors discussed above. In a recent case, the husband argued that the trial court based its decision not to award him spousal support solely on a domestic violence restraining order entered against him, rather than taking a comprehensive look at the various factors.
Divorce by its very nature positions spouses against each other. No matter how long or short the marriage was, as soon as the couple decides to separate, they become adversaries. That is, they are necessarily pursuing separate and individual interests, with the likely exception of the best interests of their children. Because of these unfortunate but real dynamics, parties are typically encouraged to hire their own family law attorneys to represent their separate legal and financial interests. Throughout a divorce proceeding, a couple may dispute any number of issues, including any entitlement to spousal support, the division of property, and even a court’s personal or subject matter jurisdiction over a party or the matter in general. To ensure that your rights are preserved and legally protected, you may wish to contact an experienced San Diego family lawyer as early as possible in the proceedings.
In a recent California divorce case, the husband appealed from a default judgment that required him to pay attorney fees and spousal support to his former wife. A default judgment occurs when the “responding” party fails to answer or “appear” in the case at a date specified in the pleadings. Here, the parties were married in 1978 and have two adult children. In 1993, the family moved to Chile, where the wife was born. The couple separated in 1995, and the wife filed a dissolution petition in 1996 in a California court. Although the court granted the divorce, the wife successfully moved to vacate the judgment.
Under the California Family Code, when a couple gets divorced, the court is empowered to award spousal support. The law sets forth a variety of factors for the court to weigh in determining the amount to be awarded and to whom. One of the more widely known factors is the couple’s “marital standard of living” at the time of separation. But contrary to what many may believe, the standard of living is but one factor for the court to consider, along with many others, such as: the marketable skills of the supported party; the extent to which earning capacity is affected by periods of unemployment due to the undertaking of domestic responsibilities; the ability to pay spousal support; the obligations and assets of each party; the duration of the marriage; the age and health of the parties; and the ability of the person receiving support to obtain gainful employment. An experienced family law attorney would be able to evaluate your situation in accordance with the statutory code.
In a recent California divorce case, the wife sought to modify (increase) the award of spousal support, citing health issues and an injury from a car accident. Here, the parties were married for 22 years when they separated in 2009. In 2011, a divorce judgment was entered. The court awarded the wife $3,123 in monthly child support and $2,250 in spousal support. The child support would elapse once their children became emancipated. The ruling included a Gavron warning, which advised the wife that she was required to undertake reasonable efforts to pursue permanent, full-time employment. The judgment also made clear that the removal of child support would not amount to a “change in circumstances” sufficient to warrant a modification of spousal support.