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Spousal Support

Spousal Support attorney orange county

According to California Evidence Code §4300, so long as spouses or registered domestic partners are living together, they owe each other a mutual duty of support. A spouse, or a county his or her behalf, may bring an action against the obligor spouse to enforce the duty of support.

In a judgment of dissolution or legal separation, the court may order a party to pay for the support of the other party in an amount, and for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into consideration the circumstances set forth in Family Code §4320. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the court has the authority to award spousal support to a petitioner even before a finding that he or she has been abused, with certain exceptions.

A spousal support award is not mandatory in dissolution or legal separation proceedings. Rather, courts have the discretion, within statutory parameters, to award or deny spousal support for a period of time that reflects both parties' abilities to provide for their own needs. A trial court's discretion is reversible only when abuse of discretion is shown. The present needs and abilities of parties must be shown by facts and circumstances, based on evidence on the record and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom at the time of the hearing.

If you are looking for an attorney who will invest the time and prepare your case thoroughly, please contact us at (714) 733-7066 or jos@josfamilylaw.com.

Temporary Spousal Support awards normally terminate:

  1. On the date the divorce judgment is entered
  2. On the date petition for dissolution is dismissed
  3. If the terms of the award sets a date of termination
  4. When the Supporting Party remarries
  5. When either party dies

The last fact is based on Family Code Section 4337. However, if spousal supports are made based on a written agreement between the parties, that obligation will continue as either as a debt or a benefit to the estate, unless the written agreement contains a provision which states that death of either party ends that obligation.

The Court can require also the paying spouse to provide a form of security for the payment (akin to collateral), such as the maintenance of life insurance policy naming the payee as a beneficiary.

If, as part of settlement agreement, the spouses enter into a written agreement, the Court will enforce 1) termination; 2) limitations on modification and/ 3) continued jurisdiction if the language is clear and unambiguous.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to foresee all potential events that may make an agreement difficult to continue to comply with. This was the case in Marriage of Hibbard (2013) 212 CA4th 1007 where the terms of the agreement stated that monthly spousal support could be not reduced to less than $2,000 per month. The payor spouse later became disabled and could no longer afford a reduced amount of $2,000 per month.

Sadly, based on the terms of the agreement, the Court denied the payor’s spouse request to modify the agreement by terminating spousal support since the language was clear and unambiguous. Even though the payor spouse demonstrated a hardship, the Court had to abide by the terms of the agreement which governed Spousal Support.

If you would like to discuss your Divorce Agreement, call Attorney Binoye Jos for your consultation at (714) 733-7066.

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