Spousal Support

In California, spousal support is also referred to as alimony. There are typically five things that affect spousal support: jurisdiction, mandatory wage assignment, earning abilities, support priorities and new mate income. These are issues that may come up during mediation.

California states that you cannot consider the income or expenses of a spouse’s new partner when attempting to determine spousal support. However, if the new partner is a live-in, there may be a presumption of a reduced need for support, particularly when it comes to expenses. This is something that may be covered during mediation, with the assistance of detailed records.

However, it should be noted that with regard to paying taxes, California spousal support is predicated on “actual” taxes paid. This mean if an individual files jointly with their new partner, the new partner’s income and deductions need to be included to determine the amount of tax attributable to the spouse.

In terms of support priorities, in the State of California child support takes precedence over spousal support. This means that if spousal support and child support are issues in your divorce, the children must be provided for first, before the court addresses the spousal support issue. Spousal support is then based on funds remaining after child support has been established.
Spousal support is usually based on actual and current income. However, should the courts discover that a spouse has voluntarily reduced their income, even though a higher paying job is/was available, then spousal support may be deemed to be based on the spouse’s “ability” to earn.

When a spousal support order is issued, it must include assignment of wages to the spouse receiving support. If there are no children involved, the court uses the Earnings Assignment Order For Spousal Support. In short, this means once an order is served on an employer, spousal support is automatically deducted from wages. This order may be stayed, but this is exceedingly difficult to accomplish. If the spouses agree during mediation not to serve the employer with a spousal support order, it may not be done, providing payments are on time and the full, agreed upon amount.

With relation to enforceable support orders; the court must have personal jurisdiction over the person ordered to pay spousal support. This is a complex area, but in essence, if you wish to receive spousal support, you should make sure your spouse is served with divorce papers within the State of California or have your spouse sign an Appearance and Waiver form.

Although this may sound complicated, if both parties in mediation understand what affects spousal support, they can work to resolve each issue in a calm and reasoned manner.

Contact California Divorce Mediators by email or phone, to discuss mediation, legal separation, same sex separation, domestic partnerships, spousal support or dissolution. Mediation may be a viable and reasonably priced alternative to expensive litigation.