Spousal Support Attorney

Pasadena Alimony Lawyer

All married couples who decide to divorce in California will need to settle property division under the state’s strict community property laws. One of the most difficult factors to address in a divorce case is spousal support, also known as alimony.

At the Law Offices of Patricia Rigdon, we strive to provide our clients and prospective clients with as much useful information as possible as they begin their divorce proceedings. If you expect to divorce in the near future, a Pasadena spousal support lawyer can help to ensure the fairest possible outcome. Whether you expect to pay alimony to your ex or believe you deserve to receive it, our team will clarify the California laws pertaining to alimony and spousal support so you can approach this difficult situation with greater confidence and peace of mind.

What Qualifies for Spousal Support in California?

The purpose of spousal support is to ease the transition from a two-income household to a single-income living situation for the lower-earning spouse in a marriage. Spousal support functions based on numerous factors, but the bottom line is that whoever earns more income in the marriage is likely to pay spousal support to the lower-earning spouse at least temporarily once their divorce is finalized.

If you earn more income than your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you should expect the court to require you to start paying alimony before your divorce is finalized. An experienced Pasadena spousal support lawyer can help ensure any temporary alimony you must pay is fair and reasonable under California state law. They will also help you navigate the other important financial factors in your divorce.

Can Spousal Support be Garnished in Pasadena?

California state law is very strict when it comes to issues like child support and spousal support. If your divorce order requires you to pay alimony to your ex, it’s vital to adhere to the terms of your spousal support agreement to the letter. If you do not, and you refuse or fail to pay alimony as required by your family court order, your ex will have little trouble filing contempt proceedings against you, which in turn can lead to civil and/or criminal charges. The court will likely garnish your wages to ensure your ex receives the alimony to which they are legally entitled.

It’s possible to set up a monthly alimony payment schedule in California, but some divorcing spouses may settle on a lump sum payment instead of consistent payments. This is risky, however. If you agree to a lump sum payment, there is little to nothing you can do if your ex engages in a terminating action that would have otherwise ended your obligation to pay alimony. If you agree to a lump sum arrangement, you could be paying much more than you would have with an installment agreement.

What Is the Formula for Spousal Support?

It is possible to privately negotiate spousal support through divorce mediation. This may lead to a lower amount each month than a judge would have required. When the court decides alimony, they typically use a formula based on the net monthly income of each spouse. The standard formula for calculating spousal support is 40% of the paying spouse’s net monthly income reduced by 50% of the recipient’s net monthly income. For example, if you earn $10,000 per month, 40% of this would be $4,000. If your spouse earns $6,000 per month, the $4,000 would then be reduced by 50% of their net monthly income, or $3,000, meaning your alimony payment would be about $1,000 per month. In the event divorcing spouses also have a child support arrangement, the court will always calculate child support first before moving to alimony calculation.

What Determines If a Spouse Gets Alimony?

When a judge determines alimony, they will consider multiple factors to determine whether one of the spouses qualifies to receive it. Some of these factors include:

  • The net monthly income of each of the spouses. A judge is more likely to award alimony when one spouse earns substantially more income than the other.
  • Reasonable monthly expenses each spouse is likely to incur.
  • Whether alimony will allow the lower-earning spouse to maintain a lifestyle similar to that which they experienced while married.
  • The length of time the marriage lasted. Longer marriages are more likely to involve alimony in divorce proceedings.
  • The age and overall health of each of the spouses.
  • The amount of separate property each spouse controls.
  • Any contributions the spouses made toward their marriages.
  • Financial or job-related sacrifices either spouse made for the benefit of the marriage, including lost job opportunities. For example, if one spouse left their job to care for their children and maintain the home.

It is also possible for the judge to consider other factors specific to the marriage in question. Many couples divorcing in California prefer to mediate their divorces privately to avoid the stress and expense of litigation. If you and your spouse are mutually agreeable to the idea of alternative dispute resolution, it is possible to negotiate an alimony arrangement that’s less strict than what a judge would likely deliver if you litigated your divorce.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Alimony

Alimony arrangements may be either temporary or permanent in nature. Typically, the court deems that alimony should exist to ensure the lower-earning spouse can maintain a quality of life similar to what they experienced while married and handle the transition to single life more easily. Temporary alimony is more common with younger divorcing couples. The recipient will be more likely to have time to improve their income, remarry, or engage in some other lifestyle change that causes them to no longer need alimony. Another differentiating factor is that temporary alimony may be assigned during a divorce case and then later transform into a permanent alimony arrangement.

When the court delivers a ruling that awards permanent alimony, this arrangement may only be permanent under specific conditions. Typically, a spousal support arrangement will have conditions attached to it, including definitions for terminating actions. A “terminating action” is any action, when taken by the recipient of alimony, terminates the other spouse’s obligation to pay alimony. A few examples of commonly listed terminating actions include remarrying a new spouse, cohabitating with a new romantic partner, or improving income past a predetermined level.

Why Do I Need a Pasadena Spousal Support Attorney?

A Pasadena spousal support attorney can be a tremendous asset if you have concerns about paying or receiving alimony following your divorce. Your attorney can help ensure financial disclosure proceeds accurately whether you expect to pay or receive spousal support. If you believe you will need to pay spousal support to your ex, your attorney will ensure the court delivers a fair ruling or that you reach the fairest possible result through mediation. If you expect to receive alimony, your attorney will help you gather all of the financial information you must provide to establish the amount of alimony you rightfully deserve.

At the Law Offices of Patricia Rigdon, our team is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel to every client we serve. If you have questions about alimony or have concerns about how spousal support is likely to come into play in your impending divorce case, contact us today to schedule a case review with a Pasadena spousal support attorney.