There are many factors to consider when in a divorce in San Diego in determining spousal support, and it is important to know what to ask for, what to expect, and even how to enforce a spousal support order. For temporary spousal support orders, the San Diego Judge normally uses the Disso Master program. For permanent spousal support orders, the Judge will consider the factors under Family Law Code Section 4320. The San Diego Court has a lot of discretion in whether to award spousal support to a party in a divorce.
In court cases, spousal support is not automatic. One of the parties has to ask for it and this is done by filing a motion called an Order to Show Cause. Asking for it won’t guarantee that it will automatically be granted. The court will look at the economic history of the parties and the marital standard of living and marriage and will want to know the following:
* Was one party supported by the other during the marriage?
* Did one party work while the other attended school to get a better paying job?
* Did one party quit working to care for children?
* Did one party delay education or career to care for children?
* Is one party currently unemployed or underemployed?
* Did one party’s financial conduct dissipate the marital estate?
The court will look at the couple’s standard of living and will consider both parties’ financial obligations, including child support and many other factors.
In addition to financial consideration, the court may consider whether or not there is a history of domestic violence as well as the age and health of both parties.
In some cases, spousal support is temporary and is earmarked for a specific purpose, such as obtaining an education or setting up a separate household and in other cases spousal support is permanent however this does not mean that it is not modifiable.
The amount of spousal support is usually determined in one of two ways. Either the parties agree on a specific amount, and incorporate that agreement into their property settlement, or the court uses established spousal support guidelines to determine the amount of spousal support as above. This amount is determined as of the date of separation, and subsequent raises or windfalls your former spouse receives cannot normally be used to justify an increase in spousal support. On the other hand, if you or your spouse becomes unemployed or suffers other financial distress, the support order may be modified.
When it comes to enforcement of a spousal support order, there may be challenges. For example, if there is also a child support order, the Department of Child Support Services can help in collecting spousal support as well. However, child support orders take priority over spousal support orders, and the DCSS will not help collect spousal support if there is no child support order. Most San Diego spousal support orders are enforced with the help of a Wage Assignment, wherein the payor’s employer is ordered to deduct the support from the payor’s wages and send it directly to the payee. As a last resort, you may need to ask the court for a judgment of contempt if the support is unpaid.
Spousal support can be a complicated issue, and a qualified San Diego divorce attorney can help you negotiate and receive the support you need to make the difficult transition.
For a complimentary initial consultation about spousal support or other divorce issues, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online.