Alimony (also known as Spousal Support)
Everyone makes sacrifices in a marriage, truly believing that those sacrifices will benefit their families for the rest of their lives. Spousal support strives to make post-divorce life fair for both parties, based on what each partner did to create a better life for their family.
Whether you are the party likely to receive alimony or the party who may have to pay spousal support, we know that this adds a lot of financial uncertainty to your divorce and your life after divorce. But you don’t have to do this alone. At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, we understand the challenges posed by alimony disputes and we strive to get each client the best possible outcome while preserving their co-parenting relationship with their ex-partner. To discuss your needs in greater detail, call us at 707-669-0841.
Types of Spousal Support
Depending on where you are in the divorce process, you may be paying or seeking temporary alimony or permanent alimony. Temporary spousal support is paid while the divorce is pending. It calculated under various support calculators. This allows the lower-earning spouse to continue to meet their financial obligations while negotiating the terms of the final divorce agreement. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary support is possibly modified once the permanent agreement is put in place.
Permanent spousal support provides ongoing financial support to the lower-earning spouse. It strives to help the lower-earning spouse maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed prior to the divorce, especially if they made career or educational sacrifices to help their ex-partner pursue their career goals. The divorcing couple may negotiate spousal support prior to finalizing their divorce, in which case the court often signs off on it without further comment. If the divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement, the final decision is left up to the court’s discretion.
Factors in Alimony Cases
Before you start worrying about alimony and how it will affect your financial well-being, know that many factors go into alimony calculations and decisions. We won’t give you a number and tell you to accept it blindly. You’ll know your options throughout the entire process. We want you to be an involved and informed part of the process.
While many alimony cases are decided without the divorcing couple going to court, the same factors are used during negotiations. Factors involved in a decision include:
- The living standards enjoyed by each party prior to the divorce
- The supported spouse’s training, job skills and work history
- The job market for the support spouse’s skills
- The amount of time and/or expense it may take for the supported spouse to obtain the education and/or training he/she may need to develop job skills and/or to develop more marketable skills
- Information to indicate the supported spouse’s earning ability is lower than it could be now due to long periods of unemployment
- Each party’s income, earning ability, assets, and debts
- The duration of the marriage
- Contributions made by each party to the other party’s career growth
- Each party’s health
- Education levels of both spouses
- Retirement benefits
- If one partner stayed home to care for the home and children, the amount of time it will take them to financially support themselves
- How each party’s tax situation will be affected
Revisiting Spousal Support
If you have a spousal support agreement that is no longer meeting your needs, you may be able to have it adjusted, depending on the terms of the agreement and/or court order. You will have to prove there has been a significant change in circumstances before a judge will consider the matter. There are some spousal support agreements that cannot be modified, so it’s important to speak with our team to know your options.
The court may agree to adjust spousal support for a number of reasons, including:
- The remarriage of the supported spouse
- Changes in income on either side
- Changes in earning ability on either side
- Intentional underemployment of either party
- Changes in health
How We Can Help
Regardless of which side of the issue you are on, you need a dependable and devoted attorney to represent your best interests. We know that every divorce and spousal support case is different, which is why we discuss our strategy with you to ensure that it meets your needs. Perhaps you and your ex-partner have young children together, and your first priority is the protection of the co-parenting relationship. In these situations, we will strike a careful balance between compromising in good faith and setting firm limits. In other cases, your sole priority may be ensuring your financial well-being. If this is where you are, we will fight aggressively to protect your future as you prepare for life after divorce. Our goal is to come to an agreement before court whenever possible. This allows you to maintain control over the outcome, rather than putting it all in the hands of the judge overseeing your case. If an agreement is impossible—a common outcome in highly contentious divorces—we are ready to go to court and fight vigorously for you.
Alimony discussions are often emotionally charged and fraught with tension. This is why it’s so important to have an attorney whose only job is to represent you. Divorcing couples often find that communication breaks down when discussing finances. This can cause lasting damage to the co-parenting relationship and leave both parties unwilling to compromise. Bringing in your own legal representation allows you to maintain some distance, avoid personal attacks, and protect your own mental health.
We also have substantial experience with unusual spousal support cases. When divorcing couples are conventionally employed with consistent paychecks and predictable bonuses, calculating alimony is more straightforward. But when one partner is self-employed, has significant seasonal earning disparities, or has multiple streams of income, trying to determine a fair spousal support agreement is considerably more challenging. We’re ready to consider the wide range of variables at play in your case and negotiate accordingly.
Finally, we aim to be a consistent source of support to you throughout this process. We know that these are difficult times, and your stress is likely at an all-time high. One of the best ways to get through this with minimal anxiety is to hire a legal team you trust. When you know your spousal support attorney is working tirelessly in your best interests, you can focus on looking ahead to the next chapter of your life.
At Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, you know your case is in good hands. We’re ready to sit down with you, learn more about your situation, and craft a plan that reflects your goals and needs. Whether you need spousal support or you want to ensure that you are paying a fair amount, let us help. Call us at 707-669-0841 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.
Spousal Support Lawyer in Santa Rosa
During your initial consultation at our office (or by phone or video conference), our lawyer is happy to explain the factors the court will consider regarding support.
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 if one of us gets substantial bonuses?
- How is alimony calculated for self-employed people or seasonal workers?
- 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?
Wine Country Family Law & Bankruptcy Office, P.C. serves our spousal support clients in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and Rohnert Park (as well as other areas) with many service options to fit their needs such as:
- Full Service Representation
- Limited Scope Representation (services limited to a specific task such as a making a Court appearance on your behalf)
- Legal Consulting – Coaching (such as when a party is self-represented in Santa Rosa – Sonoma County and needs legal advice and assistance preparing for litigation or they are in Divorce Mediation but need an independent attorney to render legal advice)
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!