How Do California Courts Determine Spousal and Partner Support?

How Do California Courts Determine Spousal Support and Partner Support?

Under California law, when a couple divorces or legally separates, a court can order spousal or partner support. Spousal or partner support can be ordered on a temporary basis, while the court case is pending. It can also be ordered by the court on a permanent basis at the end of the case, such as when a final divorce order is entered. Either way, a case must be pending before a court can become involved.

A court may enter a temporary support order to provide for support of a spouse or partner while the court case is pending. The factors used by California courts in determining the amount of a temporary order are set locally by court rule. For example, in San Francisco County, the local court rules provide that the Santa Clara schedule will be used to calculate the default amount of spousal support. However, the judge may decide, for reasons that constitute “good cause”, that a different amount is appropriate.

A court may also enter a permanent or long-term support order at the end of a case. California law mandates that many factors be considered by the judge in setting this award, including but not limited to the following:

  • The length of the marriage or partnership;
  • Each party’s age and health;
  • The Marital Standard of Living;
  • Each party’s debts and assets;
  • Each party’s needs;
  • Each party’s earning capacity;
  • The ability of the paying party to pay support;
  • The ability of the receiving party to work without adversely affecting the parties’ minor children;
  • The tax consequences to each party;
  • Whether one party helped the other to receive an education, a license, or a similar achievement; and
  • The occurrence of domestic violence between the parties or against their children.
The court must also consider “the goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time”, as well as hardships presented to each party. It may also consider other matters that it considers are just and equitable to make a proper order of support.

As you might imagine, how these matters are presented to a court can make a significant difference in the support order. You want an attorney with substantial experience in Northern California who will represent you aggressively. Please contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger at (415) 259-6636 to learn more.