Depending on the facts of each case, spousal support can be a very complex issue. We highly encourage you to consult our office to understand your legal rights. In general, there are two main issues when approaching spousal support:
- The Amount of Spousal Support and How it is Calculated; and
- The Duration of Spousal Support Payments.
Types of Spousal Support in The State of California: Temporary vs. Permanent
To determine the amount of spousal support, we must distinguish between temporary spousal support and long-term spousal support. The differences between the two are significant, but ultimately boil down to two main things:
- The time period during which support is paid, and
- How support is calculated.
Spousal support that is paid after a case is filed with the court, but prior to the divorce being finalized, is referred to as temporary spousal support. Support that is paid after a divorce is finalized is referred to as permanent or long-term spousal support.
How Support is Calculated
Temporary spousal support is generally calculated using a guideline formula. Each county has adopted a guideline formula that is used to calculate temporary spousal support. Below is a list of counties and the formula they use.
- Placer County (Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn): Santa Clara Formula
- Sacramento County (Sacramento, Elk Grove, Natomas): Santa Clara Formula
- Yolo County (Woodland): Santa Clara Formula
- Solano County (Vacaville, Fairfield, Vallejo, Benicia): Santa Clara Formula
During your consultation, we will calculate what your temporary spousal support obligation may be. These calculations are preliminary and can change drastically as the facts of each case are fleshed out.
Unlike temporary spousal support, permanent spousal support is not calculated using a guideline formula. In fact, it is an abuse of discretion for a judge to consider any guideline in calculating permanent spousal support. Instead, the law instructs the court and parties to a set of factors outlined in Family Code 4320. Some of the significant factors include:
- Income of each party.
- Marital standard of living.
- Future earning capacity of each party.
- The extent to which earning capacity is impaired due to either spouse devoting time toward domestic duties (i.e. raising children).
- The age and health of both parties.
The court (or the parties in a negotiation) will weigh these factors in determining the appropriate amount of spousal support.
Duration of Spousal Support Payments
To determine the duration of spousal support, we must distinguish between the following:
- Short Term Marriage: A marriage that is less than 10 years.
- Long Term Marriage: A marriage that is 10 or more years.
For a short-term marriage, it is presumed that spousal support will last for half the length of marriage. For example, for a four year marriage, it is presumed that spousal support will last for half the length of marriage, or two years. Citing this rule, many people in California, including residents of Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, and Solano County, believe that if they have a short-term marriage, support is guaranteed to only last for half the length of marriage. Unfortunately, Family Law is not this simple.
The presumption regarding short term marriages is only a presumption, which mean it is rebuttable. In other words, although spousal support generally lasts for half the length of marriage in short term marriages, the receiving spouse can rebut that presumption by providing competent and credible evidence. As a general rule of thumb, the closer a marriage gets toward the 10 year mark, the higher the probability that the presumption may be rebutted.
For a long-term marriage, spousal support will last for an indefinite period of time. This does not mean that it will last forever. To the contrary, it simply means that spousal support will be paid for an unknown and undefined period of time. Unless negotiated, there is no fixed termination date.
Take the Next Step: Schedule a Consultation
Like divorce generally, spousal support can be very complex. Many factors go into the analysis, including issues such as spouse who refuses to work, a spouse who devoted significant time to domestic duties and was out of the work force as a result, and even domestic violence. Hundal Family Law exclusively limits its practice to Family Law and understands the complex web and intricacies of Family Law. Contact us at (916) 864-3944 now to learn about your rights.