San Diego Alimony / Spousal Support Attorney

San Diego Alimony / Spousal Support Attorney

Getting a divorce is a life-changing event and for individuals who don’t earn as much as their former spouse, divorce can mean a significantly decreased household income and possibly even a diminished quality of life. One of the biggest shocks divorced couples in San Diego face is how drastically their standard of living can change after the dissolution of their marriage, especially in a state like California, where the cost of living is significantly higher than most other states. If you are getting divorced in San Diego, and you believe you may be entitled to spousal support, or if you have been ordered to pay spousal support and you believe the arrangement is unfair, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our knowledgeable San Diego spousal support attorneys at (619) Divorce today to discuss your legal options.

Experienced San Diego Spousal Support Lawyer

Spousal support is often awarded as part of the divorce process in certain cases where payment by one spouse to the other would allow both parties in the divorce to maintain the status quo, or the standard of living the couple established during the marriage. In other words, spousal support is meant to ensure the equal financial well-being of both parties in a divorce, but an equitable spousal support agreement is not always the outcome in San Diego divorce cases, especially those that are contentious. Attorney Steve Smith and our team of spousal support lawyers at (619) Divorce understand that all divorces in San Diego are different, with unique circumstances that can affect the outcome of alimony disagreements and other family law disputes. When putting together a spousal support order, the court will consider many different factors, including the length of the marriage, to what extent the lower-income spouse’s earning capacity was affected by his or her focus on domestic duties, whether the lower-income spouse has any marketable skills, and the ability of the higher-income spouse to pay alimony, and with our expertise and intimate knowledge of the legal system, our family law attorneys can present your case in such a way that you get the maximum spousal support possible. Whether you and your spouse are able to come to an alimony agreement privately or your case goes to court, our San Diego spousal support lawyers at (619) Divorce will advocate for you and represent your best interests in negotiating or litigating your case.

Spousal Support in San Diego

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a regular payment made by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse in a San Diego divorce, to help the lower-earning spouse afford living expenses and maintain a standard of living similar to that which he or she enjoyed before the dissolution of the marriage. Spousal support is different from child support, which is a payment made by one divorced parent to another to cover the cost of their children’s daily living and medical expenses, and these two types of support are also calculated very differently by the court. Unlike child support, which is calculated based on a strict mathematical formula, spousal support is far more flexible and open to interpretation, and if your spousal support case goes to court, you can ensure that you receive the maximum amount of spousal support by having an experienced San Diego family law attorney on your side. In San Diego, there are two types of spousal support:

  • Temporary spousal support – Temporary spousal support in San Diego is support paid by one spouse to another during the time between the couple’s separation and the conclusion of the divorce case. The primary purpose of temporary spousal support is to give the supported spouse time to transition from the marital standard of living (the lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage) to the standard of living made possible by the payments the supported spouse will ultimately receive at the end of the divorce process (permanent spousal support).
  • Permanent spousal support – Permanent spousal support is the amount of support that is ultimately ordered by the court or agreed upon by the parties at the end of the divorce process. Contrary to what the name suggests, permanent spousal support in San Diego is not actually “permanent.” Rather, permanent spousal support orders are often modified or terminated due to a change in circumstances affecting one spouse or the other.

California: A No-Fault Divorce State

Going through a divorce can put a significant strain on your finances, and if your spouse had an affair or otherwise acted in a way that ruined your marriage, you may feel as though you deserve a higher alimony payment or should be asked to pay a lower alimony payment, being that the divorce was your spouse’s fault. However, California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means a spouse can file for divorce in San Diego for any reason, without having to prove that the other spouse did something to warrant a divorce. This also means that the court will not consider the fault of either spouse in establishing the amount or duration of spousal support payments. That being said, if the spouse receiving alimony is cohabitating, the court may determine that he or she has a decreased need for alimony and adjust the payments accordingly.

When Spousal Support is Required

Not all divorce cases in San Diego require alimony payments, but in cases where there is a significant disparity between the income of the two spouses, spousal support may be granted to the lower-income spouse to help with daily living expenses and to give that spouse a reasonable amount of time to become financially self-supporting. When applicable, San Diego spousal support payments begin after a couple files for divorce and will continue for months or years, depending on the specific facts of the case. Generally speaking, for marriages lasting ten years or less, spousal support may be granted for half the length of the marriage. In other words, if you were married for six years, and your spouse earns an income that is considerably higher than yours, you may be granted spousal support for the duration of three years. For marriages lasting longer than ten years, however, the court will typically not set a future date of termination for spousal support. However long the court says you are entitled to spousal support, your spouse’s obligation to pay alimony in San Diego does not begin until there is a court order or an enforceable written agreement between the two parties. Unlike child support, which is calculated based on a specific mathematical formula that takes into account the parents’ income, the percentage of time each parent spends with the children and how much each parent contributes financially to raising and caring for the children, the court has a great deal of discretion when calculating spousal support payments in San Diego. As such, the amount and duration of support paid by one spouse to another in San Diego can vary a great deal, depending on the following factors:

  • The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage,
  • The length of the marriage,
  • The age and health of both spouses, and
  • The earning capacity and job history of both spouses.

Spousal Support Modification and Termination

The intention of spousal support is to allow the lower-earning spouse a reasonable amount of time to become financially self-supporting, and whether this goal is achieved or not, in the months or years after a divorce, the income or expenses of either spouse may change dramatically enough that the spousal support agreement may need to be modified or terminated. In certain situations, an individual receiving spousal support in San Diego may request a modification of the agreement to reflect a higher amount, due to a significant change in financial circumstances, i.e. lowered income or job loss. Similarly, the spouse paying alimony may request that the spousal support be terminated, either due to a significant loss of income on his or her part, or because the spouse receiving the alimony has become self-supporting or has not made a good faith effort to accomplish this goal. Some of the variables the court may take into consideration when deciding whether a spousal support modification or termination is warranted include the marital standard of living, the amount of time that has passed since separation, any changes in either party’s financial circumstances, and the supported spouse’s efforts to obtain gainful employment, among other factors.

Seeking Spousal Support in San Diego

If you are seeking spousal support in San Diego, or if you are requesting a modification or termination of an existing alimony agreement, our San Diego family law attorneys can help you negotiate a favorable arrangement based on your specific circumstances or, if necessary, represent your case in court. If your spousal support case goes to court, the judge will have a great deal of information to consider in creating an alimony order, and if your spouse’s income or ability to pay alimony is disputed, you may need an attorney to provide the court with evidence of actual income or to call on expert witnesses to testify to the income your spouse has available for support. Spousal support is typically the largest financial obligation paying spouses incur as the result of a divorce and it often becomes a contentious issue when the spouses do not agree on the appropriate amount of support. Whatever the circumstances of your divorce, our skilled family law attorneys at (619) Divorce can help you navigate the complexities of divorce and spousal support in San Diego, including how much alimony may be ordered by the court, how long the alimony payments may last and how these payments can affect your taxes and financial future. Keep in mind that the spouse receiving alimony payments in San Diego is required to pay federal and state income taxes on the support payments, and the spouse making the alimony payments will be entitled to a tax deduction.

How a San Diego Spousal Support Lawyer Can Help

Receiving or being ordered by the court to pay spousal support can have a significant impact on your life for years to come. Unfortunately, navigating the complexities of San Diego divorce and spousal support law can be complicated and confusing, especially because there are no mandatory guidelines that set forth the required amount of spousal support that must be paid, like there is in San Diego child support cases. Particularly in divorce cases where one or both spouses are self-employed or have high-value assets or investment income, it can be extremely difficult for the court to determine what spousal support payment is fair, which is where our family law attorneys come in. In many cases, the amount of alimony a supported spouse will receive depends on whether or not a knowledgeable family law attorney can successfully advocate on his or her behalf in court. Our experienced San Diego spousal support attorneys at (619) Divorce have successfully litigated hundreds of divorce and spousal support cases in San Diego, and if you hire our firm, we may be able to present critical facts to the court that prove you are entitled to a certain amount of spousal support. Attorney Steve Smith and the family law attorneys at (619) Divorce have a clear understanding of San Diego divorce and spousal support laws and how they apply to your case, and we will do everything in our power to help you get the best possible outcome in your case, whether that means negotiating a fair spousal support settlement or representing your case at trial. We are committed to helping our clients get a favorable result in any family law dispute, and we will represent your best interests in every aspect of your San Diego divorce, from establishing spousal support payments to dividing your marital property and determining child custody, including representing you in court, if necessary.

Consult Our San Diego Spousal Support Lawyers

Spousal support tends to be an extremely complicated and contentious matter in San Diego divorce cases, especially because support payments can be costly and because there isn’t a standard mathematical formula used to calculate these payments, which means you don’t always know how much alimony you are entitled to, or how much you may be expected to pay. For this reason and many others, having a skilled family law attorney in your corner when pursuing spousal support or when negotiating an alimony agreement in San Diego can be a tremendous asset to your case. If you have questions about spousal support payments in San Diego, or you need an attorney with experience litigating alimony cases, contact our legal team at (619) Divorce as soon as possible to schedule a free San Diego spousal support consultation.