In San Francisco, when a married couple legally divorces, one spouse may be entitled to receive spousal support. Spousal support, or alimony, is a payment or payments made from one spouse to his or her spouse. The support is based on an agreement between the couple or court decision. You may have heard the term partner support and spousal support used interchangeably. There is a difference in California. Spousal support is a term used for legally married couples in the state. Partner support is generally used for couples who were involved in domestic partnerships and were not legally married.
The Purpose of Spousal Support
This type of support is given to one spouse who is considered lower-wage- or non-wage-earner. Alimony serves many purposes. One purpose is to control the unfair economic effects divorce has on the spouse who is not making as much money as his or her spouse.
For instance, if you decided to forego your career to raise your children, you may need time to return to school or a training program to develop your job skills. Another purpose of alimony to help the spouse to continue the standard of living he or she had during the marriage.
How a Spousal Support Case Begins
Before a spouse can receive any financial support, a case must be established with the court. For example, your lawyer can ask a judge to make a spousal support order if you have the following types of cases:
• Legal separation
• Domestic violence restraining order
Types of Spousal Support
The type of alimony a spouse receives depends on the status of the divorce.
Temporary Spousal Support
Pendente lite, or temporary spouse may be awarded while the divorce is pending or when the couple separates.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
This is also a type of temporary support. It is awarded for a short time to help a spouse get on his her feet while the divorce proceeds. The money is typically given o that the spouse can go to school, obtain job training or find a way to become more self-sufficient. The support may also be awarded to a spouse who stays home with his or her children until they reach school age.
Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent alimony begins after the divorce is final. It generally continues unless two circumstances happen. One the spouse receiving the support remarries or dies.
Reimbursement Spousal Support
This type of support is for one spouse to reimburse, or pay back, his or her spouse for specific expenses. For instance, your spouse decided to go to medical school during the marriage. You worked to put him or her through school while supporting the household. You may receive reimbursement spousal support in exchange for helping your spouse build his or her career.
Factors Considered in Determining the Amount of Spousal Support Paid
You and your spouse may negotiate and agree on spousal support. This means that the agreement will become court order after a judge signs it. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree, a judge must determine the amount—if any—support will be paid. Here are some factors a judge uses in determining spousal support:
• Standard of living during the marriage.
• Length of the marriage.
• Any domestic violence during the marriage.
Talking to a Divorce Attorney
Obtaining or paying spousal support is a life-changing thing. You want to be prepared prior to asking for or fighting against alimony. To learn more about spousal support or obtain representation, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.