When couples separate or divorce, there are a variety of challenges and complex issues to work through. From property division to child custody, these legal matters can quickly become complicated and overwhelming. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is one of these complicated legal matters. Given the oftentimes competing interests of both parties, navigating issues of spousal support can be quite burdensome. For this reason, seeking assistance from a Napa alimony attorney can be valuable.
At Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we work to uncomplicate spousal support and obtain the greatest outcome for our clients. Through tireless negotiation and skillful wielding of California family law, we ensure that our clients’ needs and goals are met. If you or a loved one is facing issues of spousal support or alimony, consider contacting an experienced Napa spousal support attorney today to learn more about how we can help.
California Spousal Support Laws
When a couple goes through a divorce or legal separation, the court may mandate that one partner pay the other a set amount of money each month for the financial support of the receiving spouse. This is referred to as spousal support or, alternatively, alimony. Section 3590 of the California Family Code stipulates that spousal support arrangements are distinct from property division matters, meaning that a specific procedure must be followed in order to seek alimony.
Spousal support can be established through a court proceeding or both parties can sign an agreement (called a Stipulation) and file it with the court to obtain an enforceable order. Parties are not required to have a hearing for this if they reach an agreement. There are two circumstances in which a person can request spousal support, namely:
- In situations of divorce, legal separation, or annulment
- After a domestic violence restraining order has been granted to or against one of the spouses
In essence, spousal support is utilized to maintain a spouse’s standard of marital living. In practice, alimony involves a higher-earning spouse providing support to a partner who earns less income or no income at all. Section 4331 of the California Family Code sets forth the process of determining a spouse’s ability to gain employment that will allow them to maintain their marital standard of living. This process maybe conducted by a vocational expert who will analyze the individual’s marketable skills, career goals, and educational background to make an assessment.
A determination made by a vocational expert will be viewed as one of several factors that a judge will consider when making a spousal support decision. While factors are briefly detailed below, one of our Napa spousal support attorneys can help you fully understand how alimony is calculated and what you can do to optimize the outcome of your case.
FAQ: How Is Alimony Calculated?
The Napa County Superior Court states that both parties shall share their preferred amount of spousal support, but this initial figure will likely change during the court case. When divorcing parties file for divorce (a Petition), there is a checkbox on the document to request spousal support. Then, there is an opportunity to complete another form and attach to the Petition where parties can request a specific amount for spousal support. In spousal support cases, the judge will not utilize a formula in order to calculate the alimony amount. Rather, the judge will take into consideration the following factors in order to make a holistic judgment:
- The length of the relationship
- The needs of each person based on their standard of living during marriage or domestic partnership
- The amount that each person pays or can pay in order to continue enjoying the same standard of living
- Whether having a job will impact the care of any children involved
- The age and health of both parties
- Whether one spouse assisted the other in achieving an education, training, or career
- Any outstanding debts
- Property ownership
- The tax impact of alimony
- Whether one party’s career was impacted by the need to care for children
Accounting for all of these factors, the judge will then make a final decision regarding spousal support. The spousal support order will then become an official part of the divorce or legal separation.
In matters where both parties reach an agreement on their own for spousal support, they can turn the agreement into a court order. The order can either be a separate court order or incorporated into their Marital Settlement Agreement.
FAQ – How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
The length of spousal support varies from case-to-case, largely depending on the terms of the order. As such, spousal support may end due to any of the following:
- A court order or judgment directs the cessation of payments
- One of the spouses or partners passes away
- The individual receiving the spousal support remarries or registers a new domestic partnership
Due to the wide range of possibilities regarding the length of alimony payments, seeking assistance from a Napa spousal support attorney can help you through the process of negotiating. An experienced legal professional will work to ensure that the terms of the spousal support order adhere to your goals and desires.
How Can Wine Country Family Law, P.C. Help?
At the Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we work closely with our clients to ensure that their needs are met and their rights are upheld. We offer flexible and comprehensive services related to spousal support, including:
- Requesting temporary or long-term spousal support
- Negotiating the terms of spousal support agreements
- Providing representation during alimony court hearings
- Filing requests to modify spousal support agreements
By leveraging our years of experience with Napa County spousal support cases and California law, we provide high-quality, tailored legal advice to meet your goals. Our services depend on your needs and we are able to adjust our strategies depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
Contact a Napa Spousal Support Attorney at Wine Country Family Law, P.C. Today
Negotiating spousal support can be quite stressful, but it does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome. In many cases, seeking legal counsel can help alleviate the stress of spousal support proceedings. Lawyers can provide objective, unbiased advice regarding how to navigate the alimony process and how to achieve the greatest outcome for yourself and your family.
As skilled, knowledgeable negotiators, we will fight tirelessly for your rights. For this reason, Wine Country Family Law, P.C. is one of the foremost law firms in Napa County, especially regarding support proceedings. If you or a loved one has filed for divorce, or is considering filing for divorce, alimony may be a relevant issue in your case. Consider contacting an experienced Napa spousal support attorney today to discuss your situation in greater detail and learn more about how we can help you.
Request a Discounted Consultation
During your initial consultation of up to one hour in our Napa family law office (or by phone or video conference), we are happy to explain the factors the court will consider pertaining to spousal support.
Our office’s experienced Napa alimony – spousal support lawyer L. Bailey Penzotti seeks to resolve issues by mutual agreement without the need (and stress) of court litigation.
Of course, if we are unable to reach an agreement, we stand ready to vigorously protect your valuable legal rights throughout the litigation process.
If the issues need to be litigated, the judge has considerable discretion in setting the amount and duration of the order. For this reason, it is extremely important to have an experienced Napa County alimony / spousal support lawyer on your side.
The court will look at these factors when establishing, denying, or modifying a spousal support order under the California Family Law Code. We will also answer common questions about California alimony – spousal support such as:
- How long does spousal support last?
- What happens to spousal support if my ex-spouse gets re-married or moves in with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend?
- What happens if I’m paying spousal support and I lose my job?
- What happens if one of us gets a substantial raise?
- What happens to spousal support when I retire?
- What if my ex-spouse refuses to work?
- What if we were only married for a short time?
- What if one of us gets substantial bonuses?
- How is alimony calculated for self-employed people or seasonal workers?
Wine Country Family Law, P.C. offers alimony clients in St. Helena, Calistoga, American Canyon, and Napa (as well as other areas) many spousal support service options to fit your needs such as:
- Full-Service Representation (most popular option)
- Mediation (full-service divorce cases)
Please check out our client reviews to see for yourself what our clients have to say about us. It’s our commitment to providing quality legal services in a friendly manner that sets us apart from the pack!