FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-08
When a couple separates or divorces in California, the court may order one spouse to pay the other a specific amount of money each month. This is called “spousal support” or “alimony” for married couples and “partner support” in domestic partnerships.
How is spousal or partner support accessed?
When a family law court calculates spousal or partner support, a judge considers some of the following factors:
- The length of the partnership or marriage
- Each person’s needs based on the standard of living experienced during the marriage or partnership
- The potential financial contribution of each party, including one’s earning capacity, to maintain a particular standard of living that was experienced during the relationship
- Whether one particular partner helped the other in obtaining an education, training or professional license
- Debts and property
These are just some of the factors that a court considers when creating a spousal support order. Once these considerations are complete, the official order becomes part of the divorce or separation judgment.
How does one adjust a spousal or partner support order?
For a court to approve a change in the amount of support, there must be a change in circumstances. In other words, courts look to see if a significant change has occurred since the order was made.
For example, if the person receiving support no longer needs it or the individual making payments has a significant income decrease and cannot afford to pay, a court may adjust the order. However, if one party desires an adjustment to the order, he or she must initiate the change formally in a court of law; a change in circumstances does not equate to an automatic change in payments.
Ending spousal and domestic support
There are a few circumstances where spousal support can be terminated. First, a court order or judgment can end it in the event that it is no longer necessary. Furthermore, if one of the spouses or domestic partners dies, this would conclude the payments. Also, if the person receiving the support were to remarry or register into a new domestic partnership, this could forfeit his or her right to payments.
If one does not want the fate of payments to rest in the court’s hands, he or she can work to come to an agreement with a former partner on spousal or partner support.
A court considers various factors in making the assessment of payments. If you would like to learn more about spousal or partner support, contact an experienced family law attorney today.