Divorce is wrought with many unanswered questions, especially at the start of the separation process. As you move forward post-divorce, you may be wondering how your joint-custody situation will affect you and your children, how your newly single status will change your relationships, and perhaps most daunting, the financial impact your divorce will have on your family.
Whether you were the breadwinner in your marriage or you were the spouse that relied on your ex-partner’s income, both of you will need to come to an agreement regarding your money matters.
We at Ricklin & Associates strongly encourage you to read the following considerations a court will take into account when it comes to your spousal support or alimony agreement.
What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, previously known as alimony is money that is paid to the former spouse that has a lower income so that he or she is aided financially during the aftermath of a dissolved marriage.
The goal is for both ex-spouses to live on somewhat financially equal footing as they did during the marriage. Spousal support is not necessarily a permanent financial solution; the aim of it is to aid the lesser earning spouse as he or she transitions from a married status to a single status. However, both parties may request for a temporary or permanent spousal support agreement depending on their situation.
An agreement is considered valid when it is filed with the presiding court before any payment exchanges hands. This prevents either party from arguing whether or not money paid prior to the filing is technically a part of the spousal support.
Key Factors in a Court’s Decision
If a court does decide that a spouse is eligible for spousal support payments, they will consider the following:
• Marriage + Children
If you and your ex were married for a long period of time, the length of your marriage may determine how long spousal support should be distributed. The division of your property post-divorce may also factor into a judge’s decision.
If you have shared children, it is likely that one parent may not be able to provide as much income as the other parent due to childcare responsibilities. That parent may then be entitled to support.
The age and health status of each party will factor into the spousal support agreement, along with any financial obligations each person may have. A judge will often evaluate the financial lifestyle that you enjoyed during your marriage, as well as your standard of living.
• Earning Potential
If you have marketable skills that enable you to work at a much higher paying job than the job you are currently holding, a court can order you to pay a spousal support amount that aligns with your earning potential versus your actual salary.
Other Considerations to Acknowledge
If one of you has been out of the job market for awhile, a judge might take into consideration what education, training, or career development programs either spouse will need to undergo to be able to support themselves financially.
The court may also consider how much time the supported parent spent out of the workforce in order to care for their children. But even after the divorce is finalized, it will be up to that spouse to develop the job skills necessary to re-enter the job market.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of alimony or spousal support, the decisions you make now will impact how you navigate your future finances. Make a plan that outlines your financial goals over the next few years and make plans to meet them, without relying solely on spousal support.
Every family is different and so is every divorce. We understand that your situation is unique and that you require a knowledgeable legal expert to help you see it through. Whether you’re seeking counsel for your divorce or considering mediation or litigation, we’re here for you. Ricklin & Associates in Westlake Village is here to guide you through this process and answer your questions every step of the way.
Ricklin & Associates
2625 Townsgate Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361