Wail Sarieh
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Temporary Alimony In California

Alimony

Alimony can be a point of contention in almost any divorce proceeding. Without a compromise between the divorcing spouses, a dispute over alimony can be lengthy, costly, and exceedingly nerve-wracking. The spouses who request alimony insist that they need it, and the spouses who are ordered to pay alimony usually believe that they should be paying less – or nothing at all.

In fact, one effort to abolish alimony entirely in the state of California was launched and widely publicized in 2016, but that attempt failed to collect enough signatures to put an alimony abolition initiative before the state’s voters last November.

Sometimes in a California divorce, one of the spouses may need or claim to need temporary support – that is, temporary alimony – during the course of the divorce proceeding. Before finalizing a divorce or making any final determination regarding alimony payments (called “spousal support” in California law), a judge may approve (or deny) a request for temporary support.

If you are divorcing in Southern California and you will need temporary spousal support, or if you will need to dispute your spouse’s request for temporary support, discuss your situation early in the divorce process with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney.

In fact, the best way to acquire temporary support while a divorce is still pending – and to make certain that you will not face a financial hardship during the divorce proceeding– is to have an experienced divorce lawyer advocating on your behalf from the very beginning. Spousal support – that is, alimony – can be “permanent” or “temporary” in the state of California.

But because temporary support truly and genuinely is only temporary, a court will seldom order an in-depth assessment of a couple’s property, assets, and debts prior to granting (or denying) a request for temporary spousal support.

HOW DO CALIFORNIA COURTS HANDLE TEMPORARY ALIMONY REQUESTS?

As a divorce procedure is pending in California, either spouse may ask the court to order temporary support. The law in this state allows a court to order support on a temporary basis as determined by the requesting spouse’s financial needs and by the other partner’s income and ability to make temporary alimony payments. Temporary support can help a divorcing spouse to meet his or her financial responsibilities and to keep his or her credit rating intact.

When temporary spousal support is requested and approved during a divorce procedure, the courts in this state will – in most cases – use a standardized, computerized formula to determine an appropriate payment amount. The same data that is used to calculate child support in California (such as income, tax status, exemptions, and deductions) is also used to calculate temporary spousal support.

However, judges in this state are not bound by a software program’s calculations – they have the discretion to adjust the amount of temporary spousal support payments or to consider additional factors before making a determination. Nevertheless, divorcing spouses shouldn’t anticipate that a court will depart from the standard formula for temporary alimony requests without persuasive evidence of a substantially good reason to do so.

WHAT IS THE REASONING BEHIND THE TEMPORARY ALIMONY LAW?

What is the legal purpose of temporary alimony? Under California law, temporary alimony may be ordered so that a spouse can “maintain the status quo.” However, even with all of the state’s laws, guidelines, and computer formulas, determining exactly what a divorcing couple’s “status quo” has often been the most difficult aspect of a divorce case.

Especially when a couple has consistently piled up debts over time rather than savings, it may be impossible for both divorcing spouses to maintain an independent lifestyle that’s comparable to their previous, marital lifestyle.

In these kinds of cases, a court may carefully scrutinize each spouse’s disposable income, and some temporary alimony orders issued by California courts may not, in fact, cover all of the needs of the spouse making the request.

Every couple and every divorce is unique, so divorce cases that may involve a temporary alimony request need to be handled by an experienced Orange County divorce attorney who can protect your rights, ensure that you are treated fairly, and explain how the state’s alimony laws may apply to your own divorce.

In most California divorces that entail the approval of a temporary alimony request, the support payments are made directly to the requesting spouse by the paying spouse. Also in most of these cases, the temporary support payments are to be made twice monthly, on the 1st and the 15th of each month. Temporary alimony payments continue until the divorce is finalized or until any date that the presiding judge determines is appropriate.

CAN TEMPORARY ALIMONY ORDERS BE MODIFIED?

California also allows, when a court deems that it’s necessary, for the modification of a temporary support order even before a final judgment has been rendered in the divorce. However, judges in this state are not inclined to modify a temporary support order without a genuinely compelling reason. Simply telling a judge that you need more from your spouse, or that you need to pay less to your spouse, will not be sufficient to obtain a temporary alimony modification.

Divorce trials in California may become exceptionally complicated, so it is always best – and also less costly – when the matters that are disputed in a divorce, including the questions of temporary and long-term spousal support, can be settled voluntarily by the mutual agreement of both partners. Even in the most contentious divorces, a negotiated divorce settlement should always be given one last opportunity.

If you seek long-term alimony from your spouse in a disputed California divorce, or if you need to contest an order to pay long-term alimony, your finances and other factors will have to be thoroughly considered and evaluated.

The legal talent and experience of a knowledgeable, committed divorce attorney is imperative if you are requesting – or disputing a request – for either temporary or long-term alimony in a California divorce proceeding. Whether you need immediate legal representation or long-term legal guidance and advice to help you prepare for the future, an experienced Orange County divorce attorney can review your situation, explain all of your legal options, and help you make the best choices and decisions for your family, yourself, and your future.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh