Orange County Spousal Support Lawyer

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Orange County Spousal Support Attorney

The Hatherley Firm helps clients with alimony and other spousal support issues, including negotiating and modifying support agreements. An Orange County spousal support lawyer could be the resource you need to help you navigate the complexities of the California state legal system. There can be strict legal deadlines and documentation required, necessitating a lawyer’s help.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, involves regular, court-appointed payments made to an ex-spouse as a means of financial assistance. These payments are intended to help maintain a standard of living that is comparable to the standard experienced during the marriage. It is particularly helpful to individuals who face a significant income disparity as the result of a legal separation or dissolution of the marriage. The intent is to ensure that no one party is disproportionately affected financially by the separation.

Orange County Spousal Support Lawyer

When determining spousal support agreements, also known as alimony, the California family court system will take several factors into account, such as the length of the marriage, each party’s individual needs, and each person’s earning capacity. Depending on these factors, the agreement may be established temporarily or indefinitely.

When one spouse has a higher earning capacity than the other, the court will generally require a support payment to be paid once a month for an established period of time. Though not a requirement or guarantee, the duration is usually about half the duration of the marriage for marriages under 10 years.

Temporary vs. Permanent Support

Temporary support can be ordered while a divorce or legal separation case is still being processed. The purpose of this is to make the transition less overwhelming for the lower-earning spouse, as they are moving from a two-income living arrangement to one income.

While it’s expected that the lower earner will take steps to become self-sufficient, temporary alimony could be relied upon in the interim. Temporary support could turn into permanent support, or it could be eliminated once the divorce is completed.

Permanent support, despite its name, does not usually last forever. It is considered a permanent order from the judge as a part of the divorce process. The duration of the support will depend on the length of the marriage, among other factors. In California, if a marriage lasted less than ten years, the support would typically last half the length of the marriage. For example, if a couple was married for six years before divorcing, permanent support could last three years.

When awarding permanent support, a judge may include various provisions within the order, such as:

  • Conditions that could end the support. There could be conditions included that mark the end of support payments, such as when the receiving spouse finishes a college education or training program.
  • Support step-downs. Some orders may contain step-down provisions that outline how support payments will decrease at scheduled increments. This encourages the receiving spouse to work toward self-sufficiency.
  • Reservation of jurisdiction. Permanent support will typically have an end date. However, the judge may reserve jurisdiction or legal authority over this, meaning that they may issue further orders or extend the support period. This way, a judge deserves the right to make fair and appropriate alterations to the support order if unexpected changes occur.
  • Vocational evaluation. The receiving spouse may be ordered to take an evaluation with a counselor. This evaluation serves to assess their ability to obtain employment that can provide them with the standard of living they need.

How Domestic Violence Can Affect Spousal Support

If one spouse has been convicted of a domestic violence offense, it can have serious impacts on the spousal support calculation. California courts will consider the severity and duration of the abuse, its impact on the well-being of the spouse, and the victim’s ability to earn income. Spouses who are seriously affected by the abuse may receive greater spousal support payments, especially if the abuse forced them out of work.

The abusive spouse may also be ordered to pay for the medical expenses related to any injuries from the abuse. Domestic violence is taken very seriously by the court. Whether you are a spouse who has been accused of domestic violence or you need help filing for spousal support against an abusive spouse, you need to speak with an attorney. They can evaluate your situation and provide the necessary legal advice needed to move forward.

Domestic violence convictions, whether a misdemeanor or felony, could also negatively impact property distribution, child support, child custody, or any other area of family law in California. Spouses who are struggling to reach agreements on these issues may need the court to resolve them.


Q: What Is the Average Spousal Support in California?

A: The spousal support amount in California can vary from case to case, depending on a variety of factors. Each case is unique, and alimony payments will be specific to the couple’s situation. The judge presiding over the case, the length of the marriage, and the financial position and earning capacity of each spouse will influence the total amount. To better understand how spousal support works and how much you can expect to pay, you should consult an experienced spousal support attorney.

Q: What Disqualifies You From Alimony in California?

A: Certain behaviors and actions could disqualify you from alimony in California. Any documented evidence of domestic violence by either party could disqualify them from receiving alimony. Also, any criminal actions, especially toward a child, will likely disqualify you. If a spouse was abusive or has been convicted of a crime, the alimony amount could be reduced or eliminated. If one spouse was convicted within five years of the dissolution of marriage, spousal support cannot be awarded to that spouse.

Q: How Many Years Do You Have to Be Married to Get Alimony in California?

A: In California, there is no amount of time you have to be married to receive alimony. The duration of marriage will influence whether permanent or temporary spousal support is awarded. You can expect temporary support for short marriages and permanent support for longer marriages, but there is no standard rule. California defines long-term marriages as those that last over ten years. Anything less than ten years is considered a short-term marriage.

Q: What Is the Common Law for Spousal Support in California?

A: California law allows domestic partners and married couples to seek spousal support during a legal separation, divorce, or domestic restraining order. There are two types of spousal support you could receive: temporary or permanent. There are state guidelines and formulas used to calculate the support amount. The courts will consider the earning capacity, financial situation, length of marriage, and several other factors in their calculation. California laws are gender-neutral, so either spouse has an equal opportunity to receive support.

Furthermore, California does not recognize common-law marriage. Therefore, if a common-law couple separates without legal recognition of their marriage, they will be unable to receive spousal support.

Q: Can You Modify a Spousal Support Order in California?

A: Yes, a spousal support order in California can be modified or even terminated if the circumstances have changed or if the couple agrees. To modify an order, a motion will have to be filed with the court. You can file a Form FL-390 to initiate the process. Modification orders often have legal complexities that require the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you through the process, especially if there is no agreement between spouses.

Contact Your Orange County Spousal Support Attorney

Spousal support represents important and necessary provisions in the family law system. Whether you are the paying spouse or the receiving spouse, it is important that you obtain proper legal representation when facing support determinations. The Hatherley Firm can help you obtain the most favorable outcome, ensuring a fair support agreement. Contact our office today to learn more.

Office Location

2050 Main Street, Suite 600 Irvine, CA 92614

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