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What is the Difference Between Temporary Spousal Support and Permanent Spousal Support?

The term “spousal support” is discussed frequently regarding California divorces, but many people aren’t aware that there are different types of spousal support.  In California, a court can award either temporary or permanent spousal support depending on the situation.

As a preliminary matter, spousal or partner support in California cannot be ordered by a judge until a court case is started. The court case is usually a divorce, legal separation or annulment, but can also be a domestic violence restraining order. The difference between a “temporary” and “permanent” support order is the time that it is entered and the duration.

A spouse or domestic partner can request a support order to be paid while the case is going on.  This is a “temporary” support order as it is established temporarily to support a party during the case duration. This type of order is known under California law as a “temporary spousal support order” or a “temporary partner support order.” Particularly in situations involving domestic violence, a temporary support order is vital to ensuring the financial stability of a party during the course of proceedings.

For temporary spousal or partners support, a formula is often used to calculate the amount.  This formula can vary depending on which California county you are in. The court’s local rules for each county should explain how temporary support is calculated. 

As an example, in Marin County, the local rules state that the presumed amount of temporary spousal support is 40% of the net income of the party paying support, minus 50% of the net income of the supported party.  In the case where the supported party is also receiving child support, those percentages change to 35% of the net income of the payor (minus child support) minus 45% of the net income of the supported party (without considering child support received). 

As you can see, the calculation of temporary spousal support can be complicated and varies based on the county in which your case is pending.  This is why it is so important to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you with the calculations of spousal support as soon as you file your case.

A “permanent” spousal or partner support order is usually entered at the end of a case when the judge makes a final determination regarding an award or the parties enter into a binding agreement.  This order will become part of the final divorce or separation decree and judgment.  There are various factors set out by California law that a judge will consider when determining an award of permanent spousal or partner support.  For more information on those factors, see our previous blog post here.

If you want to learn more about whether you qualify for spousal or partner support in your California divorce, separation, annulment, or domestic violence case, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger right away.  Our office has years of experience helping clients obtain the support they deserve.  Call us now at (415) 293-8314.

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