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Spousal and Child Support in California - What Every Parent Should Know

index.jpgHow long does a couple need to be married for the court, during a divorce, to award spousal support?

California Law on Spousal Support

Well, let's first look at what the law says. California law (Family Code Section 4336(a)) says that where marriage is "of long duration," the court "retains jurisdiction."

Not very clear, is it?

If a marriage lasts less than ten years, spousal support may be available for five years.

If a marriage lasts longer than ten years, the continuation of spousal support may be indefinite.

However, there are still variables that can change the outcome.

Factors Affecting Spousal Awards

Here are a few factors a court will consider in determining a spousal support award:

  • earning capacity, including wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, and disability payments
  • rental income
  • interest and dividends
  • pensions
  • any past support a husband/wife provided allowing a husband or wife to complete college, advanced degrees or career training
  • the standard of living during the marriage
  • assets and separate property
  • the length of the marriage
  • ability to gain employment
  • age and health condition of the parties
  • history of domestic violence

Permanent spousal support is often reserved for spouses who can't work due to age or disability.

It's important to keep in mind that spousal awards can differ from county to county in California.

Child Support Factors You May Not Know

The legal definition of child support is the ongoing monetary expenditures and payments necessary to cover a child's living and medical expenses.

Both parents have a legal duty to support their children and a family court judge can require one or both parents to cover a portion of a child's day-to-day and medical expenses.

In previous decades, it was unheard of for a woman not to retain physical custody of a divorced couple's children.

Now? Not so much.

Either parent can win a custody battle, and either parent can be ordered to pay child support.

There is a mandatory minimum amount of child support. The parties can estimate the award by completing a Child Support Worksheet.

Be aware that the amount of the child support award may be decreased if the parent who is paying support remarries, has children with his or her new spouse, and is also financially responsible for children from that new relationship.

If you need more definitive answers to your questions, call me at 707.625.1875.

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