Spousal Support

Spousal Support

Plan for a bright future after divorce

The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde have a proven record of successfully negotiating and litigating spousal support orders. We make sure every client understands how spousal support is calculated and ensure each support order is in the best interest of our client.

Spouses have a duty to support one another during marriage and after separation. There are two types of support, temporary, and permanent. During a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, the court may order either spouse to pay a temporary amount necessary for the support of the other spouse to maintain the status quo obtained during the marriage. A permanent order for support may be ordered once the dissolution is final and can be for a short or long period, depending on the facts and length of the marriage.

Permanent support or long-term support, despite its name, can be modified by agreement or court order. This type of support is commonly ordered where the parties have a long-term marriage of 10 years or more.  When a marriage is long term, a court can order permanent spousal support that terminates upon death, remarriage of the supported spouse, or upon further court order.

The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde will assess your spousal support rights or obligations and fight hard to obtain a fair order through negotiation or litigation.

In order to receive temporary support, a party must file a motion called a Request for Order with the court.

The purpose of temporary spousal support is to maintain the status quo obtained during the marriage pending the dissolution.

When ordering temporary support, courts focus on the relative incomes and needs of the parties. The court looks to answer two questions with temporary support: (1) how much support is needed to maintain the standard of living during marriage, and (2) how much the higher income earner can afford to pay.

The court may consider other factors such as the parties’ health, age, education, and ability to earn, but it is not bound by these factors when ordering temporary support. Often times, the Court uses a legal program called Dissomaster or Xspouse which balances out the total income among the parties so that each spouse can live as close as possible to the way they did during marriage. Generally, the bigger the difference in income between the parties, the higher the support order will be.

The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde closely examine all factors so each client fully understands the expected temporary spousal support in their matter.

Permanent Spousal Support

Permanent spousal support can be ordered in any dissolution case as part of a judgment that occurs at trial or upon final agreement of the parties.

Permanent spousal support cannot be ordered in an annulment case. This order stays in place until the stated termination date, modification by court order, or agreement of the parties.

In long term marriages, permanent support will be ordered “until death, remarriage or further order of the court”.

Obtaining the appropriate permanent support order will impact your finances for years. The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde aggressively advocate to make sure you get a support order that secures the future you envision after marriage.

Unlike the determination for temporary support, a court must consider the factors laid out in Family Code § 4320 when determining whether to order or deny permanent spousal support.  Family Code § 4320 provides that in determining a fair spousal support order, the court must consider the extent to which each party is able to maintain the standard of living they established during the marriage by examining the following:

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  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The needs of the parties based on the standard of living established
  • The ability to pay spousal support
  • The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment
  • The obligations and assets of each party
  • The marketable skills of the supported party
  • The particular job market for those skills
  • The time and expenses required for obtaining the appropriate training and education
  • The possible need for acquiring new education or skills
  • The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party
  • The balance of the hardships to each party
  • The extent to which the supported party’s current or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment spurred by the need to devote time to domestic duties
  • The extent to which the supported party may have contributed to the career, training, or education of the supporting party
  • Any documented evidence of domestic violence between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party’s child
  • The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • And any other factors the court determines to be just and equitable

Attorney’s Fees

Unlike other areas of the law the Family Code provides that one party can pay for the other’s attorney’s fees so that there is equality in the legal process.

This legal right is not automatic. You must be prepared to present the Court with the evidence necessary to obtain or defeat an attorney’s fee request. The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde can help you understand whether you have a right to attorney’s fees or if you have exposure to paying for your spouse’s attorney. Call to request a consultation today.

To strategize with a family law attorney, please call (714) 997-7870, or click here to contact CKLH by email.

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