Seth and Angela enjoyed a comfortable, upper-class lifestyle during their 12-year marriage. However, many of their luxuries were made possible by Angela because she earned far more than Seth. This became an issue only when they decided to divorce because Seth asked his wife to pay spousal support to him. Does a wife have to pay her ex-husband support after they divorce? Isn’t that usually the husband’s duty?
Understanding California Spousal Support
In the past, it was called ‘alimony.’ Now, however, spousal support is used to describe payments spouses pay to their ex-spouses after a split.
In California, you can ask for spousal support during a divorce and because of a legal separation or annulment. If you make the request while the case is pending, the family court judge may issue a temporary spousal support order. Then, the divorce ends with a final order or judgment that addresses which party will pay spousal support and how much is due. In some cases, spousal support is not warranted for either spouse.
In Seth and Angela’s case, Seth and his lawyer asked the court to order Angela to pay temporary spousal support while they worked out the details of their divorce. The judge agreed that Seth needed some financial help while he and Angela worked out their divorce issues.
Don’t Only Men Pay Support?
The myth that only women can receive spousal support may be based on past experience, but it is not grounded in law. Under California law, family court judges consider the following factors when making decisions about spousal support:
- Each party’s ability to “maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, including their current and future job skills.
- Whether one party chose to be unemployed to help the other party.
- Whether the supported party (Seth in our case) helped the supporting party (Angela) with education and training that contributed to her success.
- Does the supporting party earn enough to pay spousal support?
- What each party needs to sustain “the standard of living established during the marriage.”
- Each party’s financial obligations and assets.
- How long they were married.
- The parties’ age and health.
- Any documented domestic violence by either party.
- The tax consequences and hardships to each party.
- Any other factors the judge fees are appropriate.
Notice there is one factor missing – gender. Under the law, it does not matter if the person who will pay the support is male or female.
Seth may have a good chance of getting support from Angela. During the early days of their marriage, Seth worked to put Angela through medical school. He sacrificed some of his ambitions to help Angela achieve success in her career, and her earnings allowed them to enjoy a higher standard of living than Seth might have achieved on his own.
Will You Receive or Pay Spousal Support?
Discuss your concerns with an experienced California divorce lawyer before you even file.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.