A California Family Law Court may use a computer program or guideline to calculate temporary spousal support amount before the trial but, the court is not allowed to use the Dissomaster in calculating permanent support. In re Marriage of Olson (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th, a permanent spousal support order based on the Dissomaster was reversed because of the failure to consider all 4320 factors.
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Spousal Support Modification
After a judge makes a spousal support order, you or your former spouse may need to change the order and would seek a spousal support modification. If you are in this situation, you have to show that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the spousal support order was made. This means something significant has changed since the spousal support order was made.
California Ten-year Rule
Marriages of 10 years or more are considered marriages of long duration. As such the court is not allowed to set a definite termination date for spousal support at the time of the trial. While the court cannot terminate spousal support by a certain date, they can set a date for spousal support to be terminated unless the supported spouse applies to extend the support on or before that date. In marriages of less than 10 years, spousal support is presumed to be no longer in duration than half the length of the marriage.
You are entitled to retire at age 65 and cannot be required to work to support your spouse beyond that age. Additionally, if you’re forced into early retirement, you may be able to convince a court that you should not have to continue paying support.
Raises and Bonuses
The court cannot consider your increased post-separation earnings as a basis for awarding support beyond that which is justified by the marital standard of living.
Job Loss: You should be able to receive a temporary abatement of support if you have been involuntarily terminated or had your income reduced. You may be able to receive a permanent spousal support reduction or termination if you are unable to obtain comparable employment and have to take a pay cut.
Self-Employed in California
You should be able to lower your spousal support obligations if your business has been affected by the recession and you are earning less. And, under California law, you can only be required to work a “reasonable work regimen.”
Ex-spouse Raises & Promotions
You should go to court to have your support reduced or terminated if you ex-spouse earns more than you.
Unemployed Spouses Who Wont Work in California
You can obtain a vocational assessment and have to court consider lowering or terminating support if your ex-spouse has not sought out employment. The court can also assign your ex-spouse a fictional income if you can prove they are purposefully avoiding employment despite the availability of positions consistent with their skills.
Disability claims for “stress” or “depression” can be reasons an ex-spouse claims they cannot return to work. An Independent Medical Evaluation can be court-ordered and a licensed vocational counselor can make suggestions as to what type of employment is available considering your ex-spouses’ limitations.
Division of Assets: If your spouse is awarded significant assets, or if you make significant equalization payments over time, this should be considered as a mitigating factor against spousal support.
Spousal support payments are generally tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient.
Remarriage in California
Your obligation to pay spousal support ends when your former spouse remarries. You may need to obtain an order terminating a wage assignment if there’s one in place.
The Family Home in California
A party who is in exclusive possession of the family residence is occupying community property which entitles the community to be reimbursed. Reimbursement is a fair rental value that exceeds the cost to maintain the premises. This is called a Watts motion and is not limited to solely a family residence. A similar motion can be made for a business or for reimbursement when payments are made after separation, with separate property earnings, towards community obligations that were incurred prior to separation.
California Family Code § 4323(a)(1) states that except as otherwise agreed to by the parties in writing, there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex. It has no impact on child support obligations. Upon a determination that circumstances have changed, the court may modify or terminate the spousal support.
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