Spousal support: what you should know

This article is not intended to be construed as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, offering insights and awareness into the various strategies former spouse use to address spousal support. Alimony is one of many factors adding to the complex nature of negotiating the terms of divorce. Speaking with an experienced attorney is an advisable way to make sure your rights are safeguarded.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is also called alimony or maintenance. Before ordering maintenance, the court considers the age, physical condition, financial condition and emotional state of the former spouses. It is a significant amount of money to pay to an estranged former spouse. Perhaps that is why some former spouses work hard to avoid paying spousal support.

Spousal support: what you should know
Spousal support: what you should know

Ways Spouses Attempt to Avoid Spousal Support Payments

In spite of the general guideline for alimony in California, some spouses use strategic exceptions to avoid paying it. The following are examples of exceptions spouses leverage to avoid spousal support payments.

Prenuptial Agreements to Avoid Any Alimony

By making an agreement prior to marriage, both spouses may agree to opt out of any alimony payments if the marriage ends in divorce. A solid prenuptial agreement can protect both spouses from making spousal support payments from the beginning. It can also resolve other disputes before they happen, facilitating things like asset and debt division.

Offering a Lump Sum

Others avoid this monthly obligation by negotiating a lump sum or larger share of marital assets instead of spousal support. Those choosing this approach often keep spousal communication open to figure out what amount is needed for a fair settlement.

Change of Lifestyle

An older movie American Beauty is an example of art imitating life. Character Lester Burnham quits his executive job and goes to work at a fast food establishment to avoid alimony payments. Some spouses use divorce as an opportunity to pursue work they always wanted to do that pays less, avoiding alimony. Another approach is to opt for fewer hours to avoid spousal support obligations.

Short Marital Status or Spouse’s Remarriage

When a marriage is rocky from day one, spouses who end it quickly are seldom obligated to pay alimony long. If the spousal support recipient remarries another, spousal support obligatory payments usually end. To verify this event, former spouses might keep track of the other’s relationships via social media or through joint friends.

Prove Spouse Doesn’t Need Support

When spouses both have sufficient income or assets to maintain their standard of living, they may not need additional Spousal support payments. Proof, usually obtained through investigation, must show even unemployment wouldn’t affect their ability to transition to a new single lifestyle.

Non-Custodial Parent

Spousal support is sometimes not awarded to the spouse who does not have custody of the kids. Children significantly raise the cost of living for the home where they reside. Not having custody could convince the court there is less need for support payments.

Calculating Spousal Support in California

People want to see quick, easy formulas for calculating spousal support in California. However, there are quite a few contributing factors that the court will consider, which renders the calculator ineffective. If child support is an issue, it is calculated before spousal support is calculated but there are several other considerations.

Recall that HFLG is not offering legal advice in this article, but providing information. You can visit California Maintenance Calculator from the calculator site for fun. Then seek the advice of your lawyer for a realistic representation of case specific spousal support amounts.