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FAQs: Spousal Support in Corona

Spousal support is an interesting and difficult issue to comprehend for many family law litigants. This guide is offered to assist with the understanding of both temporary and permanent spousal support for Corona, Eastvale, Norco and other Riverside County family law parties.

Note that if you have further questions that this article does not answer, please feel free to contact our office for a free, private consultation. We can discuss how the law of spousal support works and describe your options to you, whether you are the payor or recipient of alimony.

What is alimony?

The term alimony is synonymous with spousal support and spousal maintenance.

What is temporary spousal support?

The court may order alimony, or spousal support maintenance, to either party during the pendency of a divorce or legal separation case when a party files a motion requesting such an award. Temporary spousal support simply means spousal support that is temporary only during the duration of the divorce or dissolution of marriage case. Temporary spousal support ends when the parties finalize their case through an agreement or when there is a trial resolving all the issues in the case.

How is temporary spousal support calculated?

Temporary spousal support may be determined by a computer program that factors each party’s income and certain deductions, as well as tax consequences, to figure out the net spendable income of each of the parties. The Corona family court’s judges in Riverside County are permitted to look at this computer printout, which is through programs called XSpouse or Dissomaster, only when considering temporary alimony. However, importantly, the courts do not have to use the figure that comes out of these computer programs when determining temporary spousal maintenance. The courts must apply a high level of consideration to the recipient’s need for spousal support and the payor’s ability to pay. As a general rule of thumb, temporary spousal support usually is around 35% of the net spendable income of the paying spouse, unless there is a child support order.

Does child support effect spousal support?

If children are involved, the payment of child support will usually effect the amount of spousal support to be paid. The child support guideline amount is calculated using the same computer programs as the calculators for temporary spousal support. Additionally, for permanent spousal support, Family Code 4320 requires the court to consider a party’s child rearing as a factor when considering permanent spousal support.

Are temporary and permanent spousal support usually the same?

Interestingly, the law does not allow Riverside County Family Court judges, and others throughout California, to use the computer calculator for spousal support when determining permanent spousal support. The only function of the XSpouse or Dissomaster programs that the court may consider is the tax consequences afforded to each party based on various input factors. The general rule of thumb is that permanent spousal support orders will be up to 20% of the amount of a temporary spousal support order.

What is a “Smith Ostler” order?

This phrase is an important concept of spousal support and it refers to an order that requires a payor of spousal support (or child support) to pay a certain percentage of his or her bonus, commission or other fluctuating income to the support recipient upon receipt. The percentage is calculated on a case-by-case basis, but the spousal support calculators can determine the appropriate percentage to be paid using a chart based on the amount of the bonus or other fluctuating income.

How is fluctuating income calculated for spousal support?

When a party’s employment provides income that fluctuates, unlike like a salary, the court in Riverside County (serving Corona residents) has a difficult task of concluding an appropriate amount of spousal support to be paid. There are a variety of ways that the court may arrive at an appropriate alimony amount when a party’s income is not stagnant, including averaging income over a period of months or years, using the prior year’s income, or making a Smith-Ostler order as explained above. For more details, read our page on determining incomes for spousal and child support.

What are the tax implications for spousal support in Corona, CA?

Spousal support is taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible to the payor as long as certain requirements are met, including the following for example: There must be a valid court order requiring payment; the payment must be in cash or the equivalent (i.e. check); the payment cannot be made as part of property division; the parties cannot live in the same household, and so on. When the paying spouse files his or her tax return, they will deduct all payments of the alimony made during that tax year from income. This provides a certain benefit to the payor of spousal support, particularly when his or her income is significant.

What is family support?

Family support in California and Corona specifically occurs when an order for spousal support is combined with an order for child support. Typically, such an order is in a higher amount than a spousal support and child support order combined, which is due to the fact that the entire amount of family support is tax deductible to the payor. The court is not permitted to order family support unless the parties agree that family support should be ordered.

Does a history of domestic violence effect spousal support orders?

It might. When there is a history of DV, or domestic violence, the court may consider these facts when considering spousal support. Specifically, California Family Code 4320 directs courts to consider a history of documented domestic violence when ordering spousal support on a permanent basis. Domestic violence is not generally considered in the context of temporary spousal support and alimony during the pendency of a case.

What if my spouse’s Income & Expense Declaration is not accurate?

Both parties litigating a family law case are required to provide accurate and complete Income & Expense Declarations (IED) that must include supporting documentation. The failure to provide an accurate and complete IED could have many significant repercussions. For example, the court would likely grant a continuance upon the request of the other party. Or the court might issue an award of sanctions to the non-disclosing party, or make inferences that are negative toward the non-disclosing party. The most important advice we can provide in the situation where a party’s spouse fails to provide adequate disclosures is to contact a qualified Corona divorce lawyer that specializes in spousal support and child support. It might be the case that discovery is warranted to dive into the other party’s finances in order to get accurate financial information.

Can a man qualify for spousal support in Riverside County family courts?

Yes. The law dictates that family court judges are not permitted to have a bias toward any ethnicity, race, or gender when considering a case for spousal support.

How long can spousal support orders last?

Temporary spousal support and alimony orders in Corona, Riverside County will only last as long as the case is “pending”. This might be several weeks or months, or years until the case concludes. While a case is pending and if a temporary spousal support order exists, either party can bring a motion (called a Request for Order) to modify the temporary spousal support order. Technically, you do not need a “change of circumstance” to request modification of a temporary order, but it’s a good idea to wait until some change occurs warranting modification before bringing a motion. Permanent spousal support may last for a fixed period of time, or “forever”, depending on the facts of the case including the length of marriage. For marriages over 10 years, which is a long-term marriage under the Family Code, the court has the ability to require payment in perpetuity. Either party may bring a motion to modify the spousal support judgment based on a change of circumstance. For short term marriages, the general rule is that spousal support is paid for one-half the length of marriage.

When can I ask for spousal support in Corona, Riverside cases?

Either party can file a motion, called a Request for Order, seeking spousal support as soon as a case is filed by either party. It typically takes 30-60 days for the court hearing to occur once a party files a motion for support.

What is the standard of living for spousal support?

The standard of living is a subjective determination made by the family court judge in Riverside and Corona divorce cases, after considering every relevant fact that would lead to a reasonable determination of how the parties lived during their marriage. For example, the court will consider how much monthly net spendable income the parties enjoyed, vacations that the parties were able to take, the assets including real estate, savings and retirement that the parties were able to accumulate, and the debts that the parties incurred and paid off or still owe. The court generally categorizes the standard of living as “lower class”, “middle class”, “upper middle class”, or “upper class”. These terms have no legal meaning and won’t change the ultimate determination of how much spousal support will be paid, but a finding of the standard of living class the parties enjoyed during marriage will be included in every judgment regardless.

 

To speak with one of our skilled Corona spousal support lawyers, call 951-444-5530 or email us today for a free consultation.