Q: What’s the difference between spousal support and alimony?
A: Spousal support is an amount of money that one spouse (or domestic partner) can be required to pay to the other spouse in California. It’s commonly known as “alimony.” In domestic partnerships, the term for this kind of support is officially known as “partner support.”
Q: How will the court calculate spousal support?
A: In general, California judges typically will rely on a formula to determine the amount of spousal support appropriate to your situation. In making a final decision about spousal support, the judge will consider some of the following factors outlined in section 4320 of the California Family Code, which include:
· the length of the marriage;
· the standard of living and needs of each spouse during the marriage;
· the amount that each spouse can pay to keep up the standard of living during the marriage;
· the age of both spouses;
· the health of both spouses;
· the debts and property of the spouses;
· whether one of the spouses helped the other to acquire an education, career, or other professional value;
· whether one of the spouses’ careers was affected by unemployment;
· whether one of the spouses’ careers was affected by taking care of the couple’s children or their home;
· tax impacts of spousal support; and
· existence of domestic violence during the marriage.
Q: I have been ordered to pay spousal support but have fallen behind on my payments. What are the consequences of failing to pay spousal support?
A: As soon as a court makes a decision about spousal support, it becomes a court order that you must abide by unless the court changes the order or the duration of the ordered support comes to an end. According to the law, if you cease making spousal support payments, you’ll have to pay 10 percent interest each year on the balance you owe.
It’s important to remember that failing to pay spousal support can have serious consequences. You can be found in contempt of court, which can sometimes result in jail time. If you have questions about your duty to pay spousal support, it’s important to talk to a San Diego divorce lawyer.