Spousal support, also known as alimony, is support paid to a former spouse. You have an obligation to support your spouse during the marriage, and this support continues ater the marriage if your spouse is not self-sufficient.
Spousal support obligations are separate and distinct from child support. You may be ordered to pay alimony even if you have no minor children.
However, unlike child support (which can be ordered even when you’re not married), spousal support is only ordered in the event of marriage.
Child support is support paid for children born. You may be ordered to pay child support if you have a child, whether or not you are married.
Ways to Avoid Paying Spousal Support
- Don’t Get Married.
- Marry someone self-sufficient, who continues to work during marriage
- Waive Alimony in Prenup before marriage.
Spousal Support May Be Waived Via Prenuptial Agreement. Child Support May Not.
Unlike child support, you can opt to waive spousal support prior to entering into a marriage. To do this, you and the other party would enter into a prenuptial agreement waiving alimony.
10 Year Marriage
There is a misconception that if you have been married for 10 years, you may be on the hook for lifetime alimony. This is false.
If you are worried about this, read this blog post: 10 Years! What Am I Entitled To?
Some Information (NOT LEGAL ADVICE) for Payor
Generally, if you are the payor of spousal support in a long-term marriage, here are some tips:
Always bargain for a termination of jurisdiction date.
Catch more flies with honey! I am a fan of bargaining. It is easier (and much cheaper)to get what you want from your ex-spouse than a Judge.
If you have been married for 10-12 years, a safe bargaining point would be half the length of the marriage. Specify the termination of jurisdiction in the agreement and insert other precise language warning about the termination of jurisdiction. Courts are extremely busy, and it is not their desire to retain jurisdiction over anything other than they have to.
If you have a very specific clause, it will prevent future litigation.
Goal To Become Self-Supporting
If you’re unsuccessful with bargaining, try using Family Code 4320, subsection (l), which states: (l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage.
You will want to tell the Court that it is the GOAL that your spouse become self-supporting within a REASONABLE period.
You may also want to mention this case, 190 Cal.App.3d 645, A031666, In re Marriage of Prietsch & Calhoun, and quote that Court in saying, “Your honor, in this case, the Court held “the duration of support should be limited so that both parties, where possible, can develop their own lives, free from obligations to each other.
Request a Gavron warning from the Judge.
The Judge will put the payee on NOTICE that he/she is expected to become self-supporting. This is very important! He/She MUST be put on notice.
Immediately after receiving the Gavron warning, request a Richmond order, setting a specific date jurisdiction of spousal support will terminate.
A Richmond order gives the payee notice that on a date certain, spousal support will terminate, along with jurisdiction (meaning, the Court can no longer extend or award support after this date), UNLESS the payee files a motion prior to that date to extend, and can meet her burden of proof for showing need. This is a very important request, and unless the payee is elderly and/or has mental/physical problems, should be granted. I once represented the husband in a divorce. The marriage lasted 37 years, and the woman had a brain tumor. The Court retained jurisdiction indefinitely in that case.
IF you are the recipient of spousal support, this isn’t good news for you. Don’t expect to hold out 10 years in a rotten marriage with great hopes of lifetime alimony.