Palm Desert Spousal Support Lawyer
Divorce can be a life-changing experience in multiple ways. Ending your marriage is not only a deeply personal situation, but it also poses many practical challenges you will need to overcome. Your divorce is likely to influence your personal finances on several levels, and the outcome of your divorce agreement has a strong bearing on your financial future. If you are ending your marriage in the Palm Desert, CA area, you must prepare to address many economic issues during the divorce process. One issue that’s likely to arise is spousal support, also known as alimony.
In California, spousal support can be a contentious issue in many divorces. The paying spouse may detest the idea of continuing to pay money each month to their ex, and the recipient may resent that they are still seen as financially dependent on their ex. It’s natural for spousal support determinations to become heated issues, and legal counsel you can trust is an invaluable asset in this situation. If you are preparing to divorce and believe that alimony is likely to come into play, you need to consult a Palm Desert spousal support lawyer who can help you ensure you reach a fair and reasonable outcome.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
It’s always best to have legal representation you can trust in a divorce. Even if you and your spouse are relatively amicable and agreeable on most terms of the divorce, you both need legal representatives who will look out for your respective best interests in your divorce proceedings. Your attorney can not only handle all legal proceedings on your behalf but also ensure a fair and equitable outcome in every aspect of your divorce agreement, including spousal support.
While it’s technically possible to resolve a divorce without legal representation, doing so is much more challenging than most people realize. You could face unexpected conflicts or legal situations you do not know how to address. You may also need expert assistance making critical decisions regarding your divorce agreement. If spousal support is likely to come into play, you need a Palm Desert spousal support attorney to review the terms of the alimony agreement to ensure it is not only legally enforceable but also suitable to maintain your lifestyle and recover the value you put into your marriage.
Divorce is difficult even under the best circumstances. The right attorney can provide valuable guidance and support through each phase of your case. If you expect to pay alimony to your ex after divorce, your attorney will verify all the financial information that demands consideration to ensure you only pay what is fair. If you are expecting to receive alimony from your ex, you can rely on your legal team to help you maximize your alimony allowance to the fullest extent possible under California state law.
What Are the Three Types of Alimony?
Every divorce will result in unique terms and conditions for both parties to follow. When it comes to alimony, it’s possible for a divorcing couple to negotiate alimony terms in private divorce mediation, while other couples may need to have their spousal support determinations handled by family court judges. In either situation, it’s crucial to retain an experienced attorney who will represent your interests and protect your rights. In cases where the court determines alimony, there are three main types of alimony awarded in California divorces:
- Temporary alimony. The paying spouse must continue to make their alimony payments for a predetermined period of time. When a judge awards temporary alimony, they typically extend the payment term based on the length the marriage lasted. For example, if a couple was married for only one or two years, the judge may only assign an alimony obligation to the paying spouse for several months up to one year. If the couple was married for five years, alimony might continue for two years or more.
- Permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is only awarded in rare cases, and it is very unlikely for a divorcing couple to agree to permanent alimony when they settle their divorce privately. If a couple was married for more than ten years, or if the recipient would be unable to support themselves independently due to disability or medical complications, a judge may award permanent alimony. As the name suggests, this type of alimony arrangement persists until one of the ex-spouses dies or when the recipient completes a terminating action.
- Lump sum alimony. When one spouse is required to pay alimony, they may not want to deal with the hassle of making regular payments. It’s possible for some divorcing couples to arrange for lump sum alimony. In lieu of monthly payments, the paying spouse remits a single lump sum to the recipient. This lump sum aims to provide enough financial assistance that the recipient has time to establish self-sufficiency.
If you are unsure what type of alimony is most likely to come into play in your divorce, it’s essential to consult an experienced Palm Desert spousal support attorney. Your legal team can help you determine what type of alimony agreement would best suit your situation and can ensure that no matter what side of the agreement you happen to be on, it will be sustainable and fair.
How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support in California?
Most alimony agreements approved in the Palm Desert family court system exist on a temporary basis. Once the payment term ends, the paying spouse no longer needs to send alimony checks to the receiving spouse. However, some divorces will qualify for permanent alimony. In this case, alimony payments continue until either spouse dies.
Alimony will either continue for the full term required by the court, or it will end once the recipient completes a terminating action. Every alimony agreement will include a list of terminating actions that, once taken, nullify the recipient’s right to claim further alimony payments. For example, most alimony agreements will end if the recipient remarries or begins living with a new partner. The purpose of alimony is to help the recipient cover their living expenses after the financial support afforded by their marriage is gone, whereas cohabitation with a new partner would mean lowered living expenses and no further need for their ex’s alimony payments.
How Do I Enforce Spousal Support in California?
If you are required to pay alimony to your ex-spouse, it is vital that you make your payments on time and in full to avoid serious penalties. If you receive alimony from your ex and have encountered any issue with your spousal support payments, you can resolve the issue by petitioning the family court for enforcement. If your ex has been refusing to comply with a lawful family court order, the court will compel them to continue making payments and may impose penalties for their noncompliance.
Failure or refusal to abide by a lawful court order can lead to contempt of court charges. If you have petitioned the Palm Desert family court to enforce your spousal support agreement, they may hold your ex in contempt in response to their willful refusal to abide by your spousal support agreement’s terms. The penalties for contempt of court can include wage garnishment, which takes a percentage of each of your ex’s paychecks until they have repaid their alimony obligation, asset seizure, fines, and even incarceration.
How Is Alimony Calculated in California?
When the family court determines alimony in a California divorce, the judge handling the case must evaluate multiple factors to determine the best alimony terms for the couple, including:
- Each spouse’s individual income.
- The job experience and work credentials of each spouse.
- Either spouse’s prior contributions to the other’s education and/or professional certifications.
- Household services provided by both spouses during marriage.
- Each spouse’s tax obligations.
- The age and health of both spouses.
- Any criminal history of either spouse.
- Each spouse’s separate assets and debts.
- Other financial agreements involved in the divorce, such as child custody and child support.
The judge handling the determination may also consider other factors on a case-by-case basis. If you want to have the best chance of securing a fair and reasonable alimony agreement, it’s vital to have legal representation you can trust throughout your case proceedings.
What Are Terminating Actions?
A terminating action is any action that would disqualify the recipient of alimony from receiving further payments. Every spousal support agreement includes carefully defined terms that outline exactly how long alimony payments must continue as well as the terminating actions that would nullify the alimony agreement. The most commonly reported terminating action is cohabitation with a new partner. Sharing a residence with a new partner or new spouse would inherently reduce the recipient’s basic living expenses, thus removing the need for further alimony payments.
It is vital for both spouses to report any issues that arise that influence their alimony agreement in any way. If a spouse receives alimony but engages in any terminating action, they must report the action to the court. If they do not and purposefully attempt to continue taking alimony payments, they can face severe penalties, including contempt of court and liability for payments they should not have collected.
Can My Spouse and I Resolve Alimony Privately?
Divorce mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution have quickly become the preferred method of resolving divorce in California. Alternative dispute resolution not only allows divorcing spouses to avoid the stress, expense, and time commitment required for divorce litigation but also allows them to reach more personalized outcomes in their divorces. If alimony is likely to come into play in your divorce, taking full advantage of alternative dispute resolution is one of the best ways to ensure a fair and reasonable alimony determination.
If you plan to resolve your divorce through mediation, it is important to remember that you may not be able to settle every issue your divorce entails privately. California enforces a strict community property law for property division in divorce, and the family court must verify any child custody agreement to ensure it suits the best interests of the children it will affect. Your attorney can help you take full advantage of the alternative dispute resolution process, enabling you and your spouse to privately negotiate as much as possible, including alimony.
What If I Have a Prenuptial Contact?
Prenuptial contracts can provide financial peace of mind to marrying spouses. These contracts, as long as they are drafted legally, can essentially act as blueprints for divorce if a couple later decides to end their marriage. If you have a prenuptial contract that includes any terms related to divorce, the contract may include specific stipulations regarding alimony. As long as your prenuptial contract is properly drafted and legally enforceable, the contract may dictate the terms of your alimony agreement, simplifying the process.
If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, one of the most important aspects of your divorce proceedings will be a formal legal review of your prenuptial contract. It’s vital to ensure that your contract is still legally enforceable. Many spouses draft these contracts but neglect to update them over time. If you’re unsure whether your existing prenuptial agreement has any bearing on the alimony determination you currently face, it’s vital to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What to Expect from Your Palm Desert Spousal Support Attorney
When you are ready to end your marriage in Palm Desert, you need legal counsel you can trust to guide you through this challenging process. Your legal team can help you address the various aspects of your divorce, from child custody and child support to property division and spousal support. It’s natural to be anxious and frustrated by the number of legal issues you must address to complete the divorce process, but the right attorney will make these procedures much easier to handle.
The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers strive to provide compassionate and responsive legal representation to every client we represent in California divorce proceedings. We understand that you likely have several concerns about a potential spousal support determination and that the outcome of this determination is likely to impact your life in significant ways. The sooner you secure legal counsel you can trust, the easier it will be for you to approach your divorce with understanding and confidence.
Contact the Law Offices of Athina K. Powers today and schedule your consultation with a compassionate and skilled Palm Desert spousal support attorney.