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Spousal Support Orders


Family law judges are not required to give spousal support in a divorce or separation proceeding in California. Judges are given a lot of discretion to limit the amount of spousal support or deny it outright. This decision usually depends on the duration of the marriage, standard of living throughout the marriage and the amount of income each generates. The courts are supposed to take into consideration 14 factors when making a spousal support order, but as long as they are considered, the judges can usually award whatever way they feel is fair. However, the courts can not engage in any kind of speculation. Their orders must be based on the facts adduced from the hearings.  Our experienced divorce lawyers will have a good idea from the beginning as to what the courts will order.  


A temporary spousal support order may be issued at the outset of litigation, but these temporary orders don't have the same purpose as permanent orders. Permanent spousal support orders are reversible for abuse of discretion if they don't reflect weighing of all the appropriate factors. Because the facts and circumstances of each divorce case is different, it's impossible to know how much weight the judges are supposed to give to each factor in order to arrive at a "just and reasonable" support award. This is "extraordinarily difficult" so it's a matter given to the judge's discretion. The court shall consider the following factors:

1.    Standard of living through the marriage: The extent of the parties' income is able to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
2.    If one of the spouses supported the other spouse during marriage by contributing toward the education or training, then this creates a right of reimbursement of the contributions.
3.    Ability to pay by the supporting spouse.
4.    Needs: This includes more than bare necessities of life.
5.    Assets and debts of each party including separate property.
6.    Duration of marriage; the longer the marriage, the more likely there will be support.
7.    The ability of the support spouse to get employment.
8.    Health and Age of the parties.
9.    History of domestic violence.
10.    Tax consequences of the support, meaning who benefits what amount.
11.    Hardship of each party.
12.    The goal that each party must be self–supporting within a reasonable period of time.
13.    Criminal convictions.
14.    Other just and equitable factors the court may consider. This is a catch–all power the court has to consider anything else that may help in the support order.

If you are looking for an experienced divorce or family law lawyer around Modesto or Stockton, call us today!

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