Alimony Attorneys in El Cajon
Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a payment made from one spouse to another during a divorce. In many marriages, one spouse makes significantly more income than the other, which can make it difficult to adjust financially after dissolving a marriage. Alimony is not a right or a guarantee, and it is not awarded in all cases. If you are considering divorce and you have questions about spousal support, working with a skilled family law attorney is highly recommended.
At Garmo and Garmo, LLP, we have over two decades of experience representing clients in the San Diego area for divorce and other family legal matters. Our lawyers understand the complexities of the California spousal support laws, when alimony payments may be appropriate, and the factors the court considers in determining the amount and duration of the payments. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to listen and understand their unique needs, and advocating aggressively to protect their rights and interests.
Our firm uses the most up-to-date technology to help ensure a smooth, seamless, and cost-efficient legal process. We provide personalized consultations, ongoing case updates, and we encourage our clients to reach out whenever they have questions or concerns. Our tireless dedication to serving the interests of our clients is one of the major reasons so many of those we represent are return clients and client referrals.
When is Spousal Support Awarded in California?
Alimony is most often considered in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case when one spouse or domestic partner is financially dependent on the other. This could be due to one spouse working and the other staying at home with the kids, one spouse lacking the education, training, and skills to enter the workforce, or other factors.
California courts have wide discretion on whether or not to award spousal support and how much the recipient spouse should be awarded. For this reason, it is important to understand the factors the courts typically consider and present a persuasive legal argument for what you believe would be a fair and reasonable alimony arrangement.
Some of the factors a court is likely to look at in determining spousal support include:
- The length of time the spouses were married;
- The needs and financial resources of each spouse;
- The skills and education of each spouse;
- The earning capacity of each spouse;
- The established standard of living during the marriage;
- The age of each spouse;
- The physical, mental, and emotional health of each spouse;
- The extent to which one spouse may have contributed to the career of the other (e.g., helping put the other spouse through college, staying at home with the kids, etc.);
- Any history of domestic violence by one of the spouses;
- The tax consequences of the spousal support award;
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant to the case.
There are various types of spousal support that may be awarded, depending on the circumstances of the case. These include:
- Temporary: Also known as “pendente lite” or “pending the litigation”, temporary spousal support is awarded after a couple separates to be paid until the litigation is complete and the divorce has been finalized. Though the award is temporary, the final permanent award is often based largely on the same factors used to determine the temporary award.
- Permanent: The most common type of award, permanent spousal support is a set amount that is paid regularly from one spouse to another for an indefinite period of time. If the recipient spouse dies or remarries, permanent spousal support automatically ceases. Either party can also petition the court later on to modify a permanent award if there is a significant change in circumstances.
- Rehabilitative: This is spousal support paid for a temporary length of time to allow the recipient spouse to get adjusted financially. One common example is when the recipient spouse needs to obtain additional education or training in order to enter the workforce and become self-supporting.
- Reimbursement: This could be awarded to reimburse the recipient spouse for expenses he/she may have incurred on behalf of the payor spouse. For example, a wife who supports her husband while he is going to medical school may ask to be reimbursed for providing for the household when he was in school. Reimbursement spousal support might also mean the payor spouse reimbursing the recipient spouse for tuition costs and other educational fees the recipient spouse incurs while being educated and trained for a new job.
- Lump-Sum: In some situations, the payor spouse and/or recipient spouse may prefer one large spousal support payment rather than ongoing payments over an extended period of time. Lump-sum alimony payments have some advantages. For example, the payor spouse is able to take care of his/her spousal support obligation with one large payment and be done with it. If the recipient spouse is not responsible with money, however, this might not be the best option.
Modifying a Spousal Support Award
There are certain instances in which a court may consider a modification of a permanent alimony award. For example, if the payor spouse loses his/her job, experiences a serious health condition, becomes incarcerated, or there is another circumstance that makes it a hardship to continue making spousal support payments, a modification of support might be appropriate. It is also important to note that a court may decide not to award spousal support right away at the time of the divorce, but they may reserve the right to implement an award at a later date.
The Tax Implications of Spousal Support
As of January 1, 2019, there are significant changes in the federal income tax code with regards to spousal support. For any divorces finalized prior to this date, support payments are tax deductible for the payor spouse, and the recipient spouse is required to report these payments as income. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 (TCJA), this 75-year-old deduction has been taken away. Without this deduction, alimony is more-costly for the payor spouse and less-costly for the recipient spouse. These changes are likely to alter the amount of alimony awarded in many divorce cases.
Contact with a Knowledgeable San Diego Spousal Support Lawyer
Alimony is one of the major issues that must be worked out during a divorce. The attorneys at Garmo and Garmo, LLP understand this, and we put our extensive experience to work to ensure that our clients’ financial interests are fully protected during the marriage dissolution process. For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 619-441-2500. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.