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Help for Alimony Cases in San Diego County, CA

The Court has jurisdiction to make an award of spousal support as part of a divorce process. The Court’s goal in making a spousal support award is to allow both parties to maintain the status quo, i.e., the standard of living established during marriage.

The Family Court has jurisdiction to make temporary orders while the dissolution process is pending. Permanent orders are made at the time of settlement or trial. Although a judgment of dissolution contains what is termed a “permanent” spousal support order, in most cases, even permanent orders are subject to modification.

Determining Spousal Support Awards

Unlike child support, there are no mandatory guidelines setting forth the amount of a permanent spousal support award. The Court has broad discretion in setting the level of spousal support.

In cases where one or both parties are self-employed and/or have substantial investment income and/or assets, it is a complex task to present to the Court the evidence necessary to demonstrate the income available to pay spousal support.

Where one spouse is unemployed or underemployed, the Court can consider imputing income to such an individual, if the appropriate evidence is provided. This evidence can be the subject of expert testimony, such as a vocational evaluator. The Family Court has the statutory authority to order either party to submit to an examination by a licensed vocational counselor. The Family Court has the authority to order one or both parties to make job contacts and report the results to the other side on a regular basis.

Duration of Spousal Support Awards

The duration of a spousal support award is also determined at the time of settlement or trial. Generally, the period for which spousal support is paid is half the duration of the marriage, this provision does not apply in long term marriages. By statute, California law defines a long term marriage as one of ten years or longer. Certain case law has defined “long term” for shorter periods of time.

It is the policy of the State of California for an individual who is the recipient of spousal support to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. In an appropriate case, the Court can modify downward or terminate spousal support if the recipient has not made a good faith effort to accomplish this goal.

If the income of each party is not readily ascertainable or is disputed, substantial attorney’s work may be required to provide the Court evidence of actual income. This evidence may include credit applications, bank records, employment records, etc. If the records are not voluntarily provided, they can be subpoenaed from third party sources. If the finances of either party are unusual or complex, it may be necessary for a forensic accountant or other expert to provide the Court with an opinion as to income available for support.

Representation for Spousal Support Cases in San Diego, CA

As part of a settlement agreement, the parties can agree to stipulate that spousal support is “non-modifiable” in amount and/or duration. If such an agreement is properly drafted, the terms of the agreement will be enforced and the Family Court will not have jurisdiction to change them.

The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC has decades of expertise in dealing with almost every conceivable issue raised concerning spousal support. Call (888) 860-8544 or fill out a contact form to discuss your situation with our experienced San Diego divorce attorneys.

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