Temporary Spousal Support
You may be entitled to Spousal Support if you earn less than your spouse at the date of separation. California law provides that each spouse may receive temporary spousal support ("Pendente Lite Support") in order to remain as close to the marital standard of living as possible during the divorce process. Temporary spousal support is determined at the beginning of the case. While a party may argue against it, the court uses of a simple formula based on the parties' earnings at the time of the hearing to determine temporary support. The hearing on temporary support generally involves documentary evidence only, not live testimony. In some cases, the Court may reserve its ability to go back and adjust temporary support based on new or different information. It is critical to formulate and present the most accurate snapshot of the parties’ financial status at the onset of a case.
Post-Judgment “Permanent” Spousal Support
Unlike temporary support, the Court is not allowed to use a formula to determine the spousal support to be paid after the divorce is finalized. Instead, the courts must engage in a subjective analysis of many factors set forth in Family Code §4320, including the length of the marriage, post-divorce assets and debts, and any other factors the court deems just and equitable. In cases involving one employed spouse, a vocational plan may be put into place so that an unemployed or under-employed spouse is not forever dependent on the higher earner. In cases involving marriages of more than ten years, it is more likely that an initial amount will be set subject to a modification or termination after a period of time. There are competing public policies regarding long-term spousal support and the appellate court rulings on this subject are diverse. Post-divorce changes in income, remarriage, inheritance and many other factors make each long-term spousal support case unique.