Joshua Tree Spousal Support Lawyer
If you believe your marriage is headed for divorce, ending it could be the most challenging experience of your life. Even if you are convinced that your marriage is beyond saving, the process of ending it can be far more difficult than you might expect. Moreover, your divorce will probably influence your life for years to come.
Legal Representation for Spousal Support Determinations in Joshua Tree, CA
While most people go into divorce proceedings expecting to be able to make clean breaks from their spouses, the reality is that many divorce cases entail ongoing agreements between the divorcing spouses, and they can expect to continue interacting with one another for the foreseeable future, depending on what their case entails. For example, sometimes spousal support will come into play when one spouse is financially dependent on the other or earns substantially more income than the other.
Regardless of what your divorce may entail, a Joshua Tree divorce attorney is a vital asset as you head into dissolution proceedings. Your legal team can ensure that you meet all the procedural requirements of your case and ensure the most favorable outcome to your divorce order possible. In addition, regarding spousal support, your attorney will help you secure as much support as possible if you intend to collect it from your ex or assist you in minimizing your payment obligation if you expect to pay spousal support after divorce.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, commonly called “alimony,” is money paid monthly from one ex-spouse to the other. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure the supported spouse can maintain a standard of living similar to what they had while married. It’s possible for divorcing spouses to negotiate spousal support terms privately through alternative dispute resolution, or a judge may resolve alimony if the couple must litigate their divorce.
Most alimony orders are issued temporarily, meaning that alimony payments will eventually end. The length of time that alimony continues generally depends on the length of the marriage. In most cases, a spouse who qualifies to receive alimony may continue receiving payments for roughly half the time they were married.
Permanent alimony is rarely awarded and generally only available to disabled divorcing spouses who are entirely unable to support themselves. Permanent alimony could also be awarded if a couple divorces after a very long marriage and one spouse is financially dependent on the other throughout the marriage. However, depending on their age, it may be unrealistic to expect them to complete job training or start a career offering the same standard of living they had during their marriage.
Is There a Formula to Calculate Alimony?
It’s natural to be concerned about the actual monetary figures your alimony agreement will involve. Unfortunately, there are no firm rules regarding alimony determinations in California, and alimony disputes must be resolved on a case-by-case basis. However, some baseline calculations can estimate how much you could pay or receive in alimony. For example, a standard formula used to calculate reasonable spousal support is half of the lower-earning spouse’s income subtracted from 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income. For example, imagine a divorce in which one spouse earns $10,000 per month, and the other earns only $4,000 per month. The formula in this situation would be $2,000, or half of the lower-earning spouse’s income, subtracted from $4,000, which would be 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income, for a total of $2,000 in monthly spousal support.
This is a general formula and not a hard and fast rule for all spousal support determinations in California. It’s possible for the exact calculation in your alimony determination to involve many other variables, such as contributions you and your spouse have made toward each others’ educations and careers, household services you each provide, and whether the two of you have children. Your Joshua Tree spousal support attorney can provide valuable guidance regarding the unique variables likely to influence your spousal support determination in family court.
It’s important to remember that your divorce may also entail additional ongoing support terms. For example, one spouse can end up owing both alimony and child support to the other. Therefore, for the best chances of securing a fair and reasonable outcome to any divorce, legal representation you can trust is the most important asset to have on your side.
Penalties for Violating California Family Law Court Orders
When you are issued a family court order that includes spousal support terms, you must follow these terms to the letter and avoid any potential violations. Anyone who intentionally and willfully violates a lawful family court order faces a wide range of penalties, from contempt of court and heavy fines to loss of parental rights, seizure of assets, or even incarceration.
If you receive alimony from your ex-spouse, you should continue receiving payments until the agreement term expires or you complete a “terminating action, “such as remarrying or moving in with a new spouse. If you have any significant change in your life that impacts your personal financial situation and/or living arrangements, you must notify the court immediately, and your spousal support order can cease immediately following any terminating action.
If you remarry, start living with a new spouse, or secure a big increase in your income and do not notify the court, you could face contempt and various penalties for failing to disclose this information as required. In addition, if you collected alimony unlawfully after failing to disclose this information, you could be compelled to repay those payments to your ex plus compensation for their damages, and there could be other penalties as well.
Similarly, if you are required to pay spousal support to your ex, you must make your payments on time and in full. When a paying spouse repeatedly fails to meet this requirement, they may have their wages garnished by the court or face additional penalties. If you experience any significant change to your employment and/or personal finances that influences your ability to meet your spousal support obligation, you must report such issues to the court immediately.
Adjusting Your Spousal Support Terms in Joshua Tree, CA
Family law is unique in that it is possible to have a family court order changed without an overly complex appeal process that seeks to overturn the original ruling. Instead, any party subject to a family court order has the right to request reasonable modifications to the order in light of recent events in their life beyond their control. So, if you lose your job and are no longer able to meet your alimony obligation, you can seek a reduced or terminated alimony order that reflects your new circumstances.
Working with a Joshua Tree spousal support attorney is the best approach to any modification petition in the California family court system. Your attorney can draft a compelling petition that clearly explains your desired modifications and evidence to prove your desired changes are both reasonable and necessary.
Once you request the modification of an alimony agreement through a petition, the court will set a hearing date for you and your spouse to appear and speak on the issue. Your ex may contest your petition and present contradictory evidence. However, they could also see that your request is reasonable and agree to changes with a minimal contest. The judge overseeing the modification petition can decide how and when to implement the requested changes if they approve a modification petition.
What to Expect From a Joshua Tree Divorce Law Attorney
Your Joshua Tree spousal support lawyer will be an invaluable asset as your divorce unfolds. They can assist you to understand the unique variables in play that are likely to influence the way your divorce plays out. For example, when alimony is a factor, your attorney will be essential for ensuring a fair outcome, no matter if you expect to pay or receive alimony after your divorce.
Spousal support is just one of the important financial issues a divorce can entail. Others include child support determination and property division. It is mandatory for any spouse in divorce proceedings to submit a financial disclosure statement that includes a complete list of all of their assets and debts. If any discrepancies arise between the spouses’ financial disclosure statements, they must resolve them before proceeding with their divorce. Your Joshua Tree spousal support attorney can assist you with your financial disclosure statement and in securing any other documentation you will need to submit for your divorce case.
Any divorce can be a life-changing experience. While many divorcing spouses hope to start fresh without the need to keep in contact with their exes, spousal support and other ongoing family court orders can require their care and attention for a long time after divorce. If you need legal counsel to help you navigate a complex divorce case or if you have specific questions about how spousal support could factor into your impending divorce, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Athina K. Powers today to schedule your consultation with our team and learn more about our family law services in Joshua Tree, CA.