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Partner and spousal support are complex matters in California

When you are going through a divorce, you might have some concerns about how it will impact you financially. This is especially true if your spouse has been the breadwinner. In California, some people who are getting divorced, and even some who were in a domestic partnership, may receive alimony payments from the other spouse.

While it might seem simple enough that one spouse has to pay the other, going through the alimony process can be a rather complex process in the family law system. It is important to understand exactly how these payments will affect you.

Spousal support or partner support must be ordered by the court unless both parties have signed a support agreement. The court can order temporary support or permanent support. This order can be made as part of a domestic violence restraining order, an annulment, a divorce or a legal separation.

Temporary support occurs while the case is ongoing. Once the case is completed, such as when the divorce decree is finalized, any support awarded on the final decree is considered permanent support.

In order to award someone spousal or partner support, the judge presiding over the case has to consider several factors. The length of the marriage or partnership, earning capacity of both parties and the history of domestic violence if there was one in the relationship are some of the determining factors when it comes to alimony payments in California. There are other factors such as the tax impact of the award, which are all covered in California Family Code section 4320.

Once support is ordered, it must be paid until one of three things happens. If either parties dies, the support stops. A court order can stop it. Also, if the person who receives the support registers a new domestic partnership or gets married, the support will stop.

Source: California Courts, "Spousal/Partner Support" Aug. 07, 2014

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