Bankruptcy and Alimony in California

bankruptcy

Alimony, also known as spousal support, requires one spouse to provide financial support to their former spouse in the case of separation or divorce. Declaring bankruptcy in California relieves financial hardships. It allows you to settle debts, liquidate assets, or set up a plan to repay creditors. But what happens when a spouse ordered to pay alimony files bankruptcy?

This situation can raise questions about how this will impact their obligation to pay alimony in California. This article will explore how bankruptcy affects alimony payments in California and explain how enlisting the services of a family law and bankruptcy attorney can benefit your situation.

Alimony in California

Alimony payments are ordered during divorce proceedings to help the lower-earning spouse transition from marriage to singlehood. They are ordered based on need and are gender-neutral, meaning that women and men are both eligible to receive them.

Types of Alimony in California

There are five types of alimony in California. Let’s take a look at each.

  1. Temporary alimony is paid while you are separated and lasts until the divorce is finalized. It uses a percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s income and subtracts a percentage of the lower-earning spouse’s income to determine the amount. The percentages used vary by county, and the amount of temporary alimony may differ from the long-term amount agreed on. 
  2. Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony issued in California and is paid until the recipient spouse can become self-sufficient. The recipient spouse has a set timeframe to bring their single lifestyle in line with their married lifestyle.
  3. Permanent alimony has no duration and is usually paid until one of the spouses dies or the recipient party gets remarried. The amount can remain the same throughout the term of the payments, or either party may request a modification.
  4. Reimbursement alimony is commonly used in California for one spouse to pay for the other to go to college and earn a degree. This will result in an income increase for the recipient spouse because they will then have a marketable skill, so the need for additional support may be reduced or eliminated.
  5. Lump-sum alimony is a sort of alimony “buyout.” Instead of making regular payments, the paying spouse can agree to give up assets or take on additional liabilities instead of making alimony payments. The problem with lump-sum alimony is that if the recipient spouse gets remarried after the divorce, the payment has already been made, and the paying spouse cannot ask for a modification.

Bankruptcy and Alimony in California

Alimony obligations are considered priority debts and cannot be discharged during either type of bankruptcy. However, the type of bankruptcy filed determines how it affects alimony.

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling assets to pay creditors. The debtor will still be required to fulfill their court-ordered alimony obligation.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the debtor to reorganize their finances and develop a repayment plan to repay creditors over three to five years. Alimony payments must be included in the repayment plan, and failure to make them can result in the dismissal of the bankruptcy case. 

Navigating Bankruptcy and Alimony in California

Understanding the legal procedures and obligations under California law regarding alimony and bankruptcy is essential. Both parties can benefit from seeking legal counsel to understand their rights and responsibilities.

Consulting with a family law attorney can help individuals understand their rights regarding alimony and how bankruptcy can affect their obligations. The attorney can also help negotiate alimony agreements and ensure that they comply with the law.

Consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand how it can impact your alimony obligations if you seek bankruptcy. They can assess your financial situation, advise you on the best type of bankruptcy filing for your situation, and help develop a strategy to address alimony payments during the bankruptcy process.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika, Trusted Family Law Attorneys in Kern County

Couples facing separation, divorce, and financial hardships face complex legal challenges. Understanding how bankruptcy affects alimony in California is essential for both the paying and receiving spouses. A qualified family law attorney can help you stay informed of your rights and responsibilities, navigate these challenges, and seek relief from overwhelming financial burdens.

At Azemika & Azemika, our partners have handled family law cases in Kern County for over 30 years. Focusing solely on family law allows us to handle each case with detail and expertise. If you are paying or receiving alimony and facing bankruptcy, our experienced team can help. When choosing our team of family law attorneys, you will receive knowledgeable, compassionate, and determined service.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Understanding Remarriage And Alimony In California

alimony

Some of the more common questions asked when going through a divorce are: who is receiving or paying alimony, and what happens to that alimony when the recipient remarries? Or how does cohabitation without being remarried work? While the answers are somewhat simple, there are some nuances to consider. 

This article gives an overview of alimony in California and how remarriage or cohabitation can affect any alimony obligations. For more detailed information or specific advice, you can seek support from an experienced family lawyer in California to answer all your questions and guide you through the process.

Alimony in California

In California, spousal support, also known as alimony, is usually a monthly payment that one spouse pays the other to help the lesser-earning or unemployed spouse maintain a living while gaining skills or education necessary to support themselves on their own. These payments can be short-term, long-term, or made in one lump sum, but the amount and terms can be negotiated and agreed upon between the two spouses or ordered by the court. 

Many couples include a provision in their marital settlement agreement or prenuptial agreement that details a specific date and year when the spousal support payments will end. If the parties fail to set up a particular termination date, the end of alimony payments will be determined by state law. If the marital settlement agreement and divorce order are not clearly stated, the parties must rely on California law.

How Does Remarriage Impact Alimony?

California Family Code Section 4337 states that spousal support is automatically terminated when the spouse who receives the alimony is remarried. This provision exists to streamline the transition and removes the need for a court hearing or an additional legal process to end alimony. Remarriage does not end the support if there is a past-due balance, vested lump-sum alimony payments, or property transfers. The ex-spouse receiving support is responsible for notifying the other about their remarriage. Not doing so can result in an order by the court to refund any excess alimony payments.

This regulation does not affect temporary support being awarded during separation. The law also does not apply where the two spouses’ agreement says no different. For instance, within a divorce settlement, both parties have agreed to continue paying alimony payments even if the recipient remarries. This agreement must be explicitly stated in the settlement to be effective.

Alimony When Cohabitating Without Remarrying

Under California Family Code Section 4323, cohabitation with a non-marital partner can be perceived by the court as a change in circumstances, which could lead to alimony being reduced or terminated. Unless the supported spouse can prove they still need alimony payments while living with someone else, the court can presume that the reduction or termination is appropriate. It is important to note that cohabitation is more than just a roommate situation; it usually requires a personal, romantic relationship, but the court may still find the need for support to modify alimony even with just a roommate if it affects the supported spouse’s new financial circumstances. The cohabitant’s income will not be considered at a hearing regarding cohabitation, but any new financial circumstance of the ex-spouse receiving support will be considered.

Modifications or Termination of Alimony

Suppose a supported spouse is simply living with someone new or has an increase in income. In that case, the paying spouse must file a motion to modify support and request a court order to lower or end alimony payments altogether. If you can, ask your ex-spouse to agree to lower or end alimony in their new circumstances. Still, if they disagree, you can file a motion to modify or terminate the alimony with the same court that granted your divorce.

You’ll need to show how the circumstances have changed and how it warrants the modification or termination:

  • Proof of their increase in income
  • Significantly lowered needs
  • Living with another person in a romantic relationship
  • Statements from family or friends about the cohabitation 
  • Evidence of the ex-spouse’s new address
  • Communication from the ex-spouse about their cohabitation

Kern County Family Law By Your Side 

If you are looking to consult with an experienced family law attorney about remarriage and alimony, Azemika Law is here for you, with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future.

Contact us today, and let us help you create effective resolutions and fair alimony agreements.

Domestic Violence and Alimony in California

domestic violence

Domestic violence is a serious issue affecting millions of people annually in the United States. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence can significantly impact many aspects of a victim’s life, including their ability to receive alimony in California.

California is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning a spouse doesn’t have to prove the other spouse did anything wrong to file for divorce. Because of this, the court will not consider who was at fault for the divorce. So even if domestic violence occurred, they would still split all assets and debts evenly.

The major exception is when it comes to issuing alimony. This article will explain how alimony works in California and how domestic violence can affect alimony.

What is Domestic Violence in California?

In California, domestic violence is defined as abuse or threats of abuse between spouses, former spouses, cohabitants, and a couple in a dating relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.

What is Alimony?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment made from one spouse to another after a divorce. Spousal support provides financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse and helps them maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. The court will consider the following factors of each spouse when awarding alimony.

  • Length of the marriage
  • Overall health and age
  • Non-financial contributions
  • Current income
  • Earning potential
  • Education and training
  • Work history
  • Marketable skills

The court will also look at the ability of the paying spouse to provide alimony, and whether there is evidence of domestic violence. When domestic violence is involved, the court is required by law to consider any documented evidence of domestic violence when making an alimony determination. And they will never order a spouse to pay alimony to an abuser. (California Family Law Section 4320(i))

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Alimony in California

When domestic violence is a factor in a divorce, the court will consider several factors when determining spousal support. These factors include:

  • The severity and duration of the abuse
  • The impact of the abuse on the victim’s physical and emotional well-being
  • The victim’s ability to earn a living.

If a domestic violence victims cannot work due to the abuse, they may be awarded spousal support to help them get back on their feet. The court may also order the abuser to pay for any medical bills or therapy expenses related to the abuse.

In addition to affecting the amount of spousal support awarded, domestic violence can also impact the duration of spousal support. As mentioned above, alimony is determined by considering multiple factors. However, when domestic violence is involved, the court may order spousal support to be paid for an extended period.

This is because domestic violence can impact a victim’s ability to earn a living and maintain their standard of living. The court may also order spousal support to be paid indefinitely if the victim cannot become self-supporting due to the abuse.

False Allegations of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence allegations are taken very seriously, and false allegations can have serious consequences. For example, there can be legal and financial consequences if someone has been found to have made a false allegation of domestic violence to gain an advantage in divorce or custody cases.

Azemika & Azemika, Family Law Attorneys in Kern County

Domestic violence can have a significant impact on alimony in California. The court takes allegations of domestic violence very seriously, and it is crucial to seek legal guidance if you are a victim or an abuser facing allegations. Domestic violence can affect both the amount and duration of spousal support, and in some cases, the court may even deny spousal support to an abusive spouse.

Suppose you are a victim of domestic violence and are seeking spousal support. In that case, it is essential to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process. In addition, a family law attorney can help you gather evidence of the abuse, file for a restraining order if necessary, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.

If you are an abuser facing allegations of domestic violence, it is essential to speak with an attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. An attorney can also help you address any issues related to domestic violence, such as attending counseling or anger management classes.

If you’re going through a divorce and are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of domestic violence, turn to the expert team of family law attorneys at Azemika & Azemika. We will fight for you and protect you and your family during the separation and divorce.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

How Long Does an Ex-Husband Have to Pay Alimony in California?

alimony

When couples file for divorce in California, the court may order one party to pay spousal support payments. While each marriage is unique, spousal support payments are based upon many factors, including current incomes, assets, debts, each person’s education level, and current and future earning capacity.

While either spouse can request spousal support, it is primarily the ex-husband that has to pay alimony in California. This is due to a more significant disparity in financial earnings, one spouse taking on more household and child-rearing duties, and other factors.

So how long does the ex-husband have to pay alimony in California? This article will outline what impacts spousal support and the determining factors that influence the amount and duration of spousal support the judge grants.

What Impacts Spousal Support in California?

Whether or not a spouse will be awarded spousal support in California is entirely up to the court. If an ex-husband must pay alimony after the divorce, the court will most likely consider the following factors.

  • How long you and your spouse have been married
  • The age, health, and earning ability of each party
  • What is the standard of living that you maintained and enjoyed as a married couple
  • Whether or not the person seeking alimony sacrificed their career to support their spouse’s career goals
  • The ability of the payee to maintain spousal support
  • Each party’s financial assets and liabilities
  • Whether the person requesting spousal support can maintain proper employment without harming the best interests of the children
  • If there is evidence of domestic violence
  • Any other contributing factor the court deems just and equitable

Divorce attorneys experienced in California divorce can help you negotiate an arrangement with your spouse to meet immediate and foreseeable financial needs. It is essential to know how to protect your finances in a divorce.

Factors That Impact the Duration of Spousal Support in California

A family court will consider the length of the marriage when determining alimony payments. If you and your spouse were separated anytime before the divorce, the court might consider the length of the separation period.

The types of alimony usually awarded in a California divorce are:

  • Temporary Spousal Support. This alimony is paid during divorce and stops when a judge cites a permanent order. Usually, temporary spousal support is granted to a spouse who needs financial assistance during a divorce. Temporary spousal support is generally calculated based on a formula used by the family court in the county where your case is filed.
  • Permanent Spousal Support. This alimony is granted after the divorce is finalized; however, it is crucial to understand that permanent spousal support is not awarded for life. If your marriage was less than ten years, the judge may grant spousal support for up to half of the length of the marriage. Suppose you were married for longer than ten years. In that case, the judge can order a longer or shorter duration for the alimony payment. In marriages that lasted more than ten years, judges are not permitted to eliminate spousal support but can set it to zero.

The other option is lump sum alimony which has both advantages and disadvantages.

Can You Modify Spousal Support?

Usually, spousal support can be modified, except when both parties have a previous agreement that it may not be revoked or altered. Also, spousal support of a fixed duration can’t be modified or extended after the deadline has passed. 

For the court to modify your alimony payments, the party asking for the modification must demonstrate a change in circumstance since the time of the order. The change must be substantial and material, and the court maintains complete discretion in determining if this requirement has been met.

An example would be if there is a decrease in income, the court may temporarily agree to reduce the spousal support payments. Either spouse may petition for a modification of support payments.

Terminating a Spousal Support Order

Suppose you can show the court a legally acceptable change in circumstances. In that case, you might be able to terminate your obligation of spousal support payments unless it was made non-terminable when ordered. 

Circumstances that may warrant spousal support termination include:

  • If you are over 65 and are ready to retire
  • You have a decrease in your income due to circumstances outside of your control, such as a severe accident or illness
  • Your former spouse gets remarried or registers a new domestic partnership
  • Your former spouse increases their income

If you are in the process of getting a divorce and seeking alimony or wanting to modify existing spousal support orders, hiring an expert attorney can help ensure you have someone in your corner looking out for your best interest.

For Help With Alimony In California, Hire The Experts

At Azmekia & Azmekia, our law firm is exclusively devoted to family law. Our attorneys are experienced in handling divorce cases, dissolution of domestic partnerships, paternity, child custody and support, child visitation and spousal support, adoptions, and abandonments. Our office in Kern County and our partners are here to put their expertise to work for you! Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

Can You Modify Alimony in California?

Details on aspects of your divorce, such as asset and property division, child support, child custody, and alimony, are all detailed in the divorce agreement when your divorce is finalized. These things are set for a fixed amount of time and are determined, taking into account the situation and circumstances of both parties.

The courts will allow either spouse to petition the court for a spousal support modification. However, they will not simply grant a modification; you must prove there is a valid reason to modify the arrangement that is currently in place. Keep reading to learn more about spousal support and modifications to the orders.

How Alimony is Calculated

When judges decide about alimony, they examine both the needs of the lower-earning spouse and the ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay. Here is an example of the need and ability to pay.

One spouse has an income of $2,000 per month, and their expenses are $2,800. Therefore, they will need $800 to cover their monthly expenses. The other spouse’s income is $6,000 per month, with expenses of $4,500. The judge may order the spouse who can afford support to pay $800 per month in alimony.

Most of the time, judges will use a formula to determine the need and ability to pay. The formula used is:

Monthly Alimony Payment = 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s net income per month – 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s net income per month.

So in our example above, the formula would be:

Spouse 1: 40% of $6,000 = $2,400

Spouse 2: 50% of $2,000 = $1,000

$2,400 – $1,000 = $1,400

So in our example, Spouse 1 would pay Spouse 2 $1,400 each month in alimony.

Judges use these formulas as guides. The amount can vary based on certain factors, such as if either spouse:

  • Pays for college for your children
  • Has high medical bills
  • Has a significant amount of money in savings

And you can also come to an agreement on an amount with your spouse that better fits your situation.

Valid Reasons for an Alimony Order Modification

The spouse who is requesting the modification is the one who must provide proof to the court. While the courts will consider any reason that a modification is requested, some of the more common reasons for a modification request include:

  • The paying spouse experiences a significant (temporary or permanent) drop in income.
  • The receiving spouse gets a raise or a new job and no longer needs financial support.
  • The receiving spouse remarries or is cohabitating.
  • Child support has ended.
  • The paying spouse is incarcerated.
  • The receiving spouse isn’t making an effort to become self-supporting.
  • Income or assets were misrepresented by either spouse, which would affect the support order.

How to Modify Alimony

The easiest way to get a modification is for each party to agree to the modification, draft an agreement, and present it to the judge for approval. Your family law attorney can represent you during the mediation and file the correct forms with the court.

If you are unable to agree with your spouse, the spouse requesting the modification must:

  • Fill out the court documents (Request for Order and Income and Expense Declaration)
  • Have the documents reviewed by the court’s family law facilitator
  • Make two copies of the document
  • File the documents with the court
  • Get a court date
  • Serve the papers to the other spouse
  • File proof of service
  • Attend the court hearing

The judge will then review the evidence and decide if a modification should be implemented. 

Let the Expert Team at Azemika Law Help You With Your Alimony Modification

If you’ve found that your financial situation has changed since your divorce was final and you need to request a modification to your spousal support order, the team at Azemika Law can help. While you aren’t required to have an attorney in order to file for a modification, it can benefit you to have one of our experienced attorneys by your side to ensure that you put your best case forward.

At Azemika & Azemika, our team is exclusively dedicated to practicing family law. We utilize our vast experience in family law to customize each case to the specific needs of our clients. Our goal is to provide knowledgeable, aggressive, and affordable legal representation. We focus on your family so that you can focus on the future.
Contact us today for a case evaluation.

Monthly or Lump Sum Alimony: Which Is Better?

lump sum alimony

Alimony is spousal support that is awarded in California court that allows one spouse to maintain their quality of living after the divorce. Each case has its own set of circumstances, so what may work for one couple isn’t always appropriate or possible for another. Sometimes a spouse has given up their career to raise their children, so may be more eligible for alimony payments from the higher-earning working spouse to keep things fair and ensure a quality of life for both the ex-spouse and their children. A judge and the paying spouse will be able to come to an agreement on how to deliver alimony payments, as a lump sum alimony, or with monthly payments.

Seeking advice from a trusted attorney can help in your decision of monthly or lump sum alimony, and here we take a deeper look into the benefits and disadvantages of both.

Lump Sum Alimony

Lump sum alimony is when a spouse fulfills their entire alimony obligation, with one lump sum payment. In many cases, this is an option when the paying spouse prefers to pay in this way, as an alternative to having monthly payments.

There are some pros and cons of lump sum alimony for both the paying spouse or payee. A benefit from a one lump sum alimony for both parties is being able to avoid a long drawn-out obligation to one another. A paying spouse is able to complete their obligation all at once, and avoid having monthly communication with the other. For those paying spousal support, a lump sum removes the chance that the other spouse requires maintaining life insurance to provide safety over the alimony in case of your death.

With a lump sum payment, the receiving spouse doesn’t have to worry about the paying spouse avoiding payments, receiving payments late, or having to track down a non-paying ex-spouse. You may earn income with a lump sum that is greater than the discount rate, and will have immediate access to the funds which allows you to invest or pay off debts you may have had to pay over a longer period of time. A financial advisor should be consulted to see what you can expect to earn from an anticipated lump sum settlement.

A lump sum payment also avoids a request for change in alimony on the basis of income changing. In the event of finding a higher paying job, coming into money, or even beginning a partnership where bills are split with the new significant other, a request can be made by the paying spouse for alimony payments to be lowered or stopped. This stands for the paying spouse as well, by receiving a raise or high paying job after the divorce, the recipient could go to court and request higher alimony payments. By paying a lump sum from the very beginning can avoid the headache of rehashing alimony payments in the future.

Monthly Alimony

Monthly alimony is where the paying spouse can make monthly alimony installments. It is not always possible for someone to pay a total amount of a lump sum all at once. Rather than taking out a loan that can accumulate interest, a paying spouse can agree to monthly installments. 

Monthly payments could benefit a paying spouse by having to make reduced payments in the future, in the event of lower income being made, or if the recipient’s status changes due to a new relationship or job. The courts may reduce the obligation, or eliminate it entirely. Also, if your ex-spouse declares bankruptcy, their creditors may be able to attempt recovering the entirety or a portion of your lump sum settlement, so monthly installments can be beneficial in unforeseen circumstances.

For the spousal support recipient, monthly installments can be helpful with managing money properly. With a lump sum payment, you risk spending your money faster, whereas a monthly payment allows you to control your spending and allocate the funds appropriately month to month.

Alimony Questions or Concerns Answered 

Divorce is unique to every couple, and settlements that might work for one isn’t possible or reasonable for another. While separating your lives is already a stressful situation to begin with, having to split finances always proves difficult regardless how civil communications can be.

Having a trusted attorney to mediate your decisions and process paperwork needed can make things more streamlined for you and your ex spouse. At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. 

For complete representation in divorce, contact us today to help you create effective resolutions and guide you into your next chapter of life.

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony?

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony?

Alimony can be a topic of contention for many people, especially for the spouse who has to make the payments. Most alimony recipients are women, but what about men? Can a woman pay a man alimony?

Spousal support payments generally go to women, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, men can request and receive alimony payments from their ex-wives. What does this mean for couples divorcing in California? 

Whether you’re a man seeking spousal support from your ex-wife, or a wife wondering if your ex-husband could ask for alimony, we can help. 

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony in California?

Alimony payments are determined based on each spouse’s financial situation. This means that in many divorce cases, the man could be financially worse off than his ex-wife, and therefore he would be eligible to request spousal or partner support payments. 

Alimony is designed to make both parties’ financial situations more equitable after a divorce. If one spouse earns a great deal more than the other, the lesser earning spouse may request alimony payments to help them financially after the divorce.

At one time, men were primarily considered the breadwinners in most families. However, today many women earn more than their husbands, and in the case of a divorce, they may find that their ex-husbands are eligible to request alimony. 

Why Don’t More Men Ask For Alimony?

If alimony is an option for men in California and other states, why don’t we hear about more men receiving alimony payments? Men often don’t receive alimony payments because they don’t ask for them.

Gender stereotypes may make men feel somehow inadequate for asking for alimony payments. Seeking spousal or partner support one’s your ex-wife may feel somehow emasculating for some men. Men don’t want to be seen as weak or lesser than their ex, but this isn’t a fair assessment of the situation.

Family courts may also have a bias towards women regarding alimony. Men may have to prove that they deserve the financial support, and the courts may closely scrutinize their work efforts and financial situation before alimony is awarded. 

Whether it’s pride or gender bias that prevents men from seeking alimony, the bottom line remains the same. Men can certainly ask for alimony payments in California, but they should be prepared to have their finances scrutinized during the process.

Are You Likely To Qualify for Alimony?

Alimony is designed to help balance out the financial aspects of a divorce. Even if one spouse earns far more than the other during a marriage, it is assumed that both spouses have equal access to the money.

If one spouse earns far more than the other during a divorce, the other spouse may seek alimony payments. If one spouse gave up their job to take care of children or the home, the stay-at-home spouse might seek alimony in the case of a divorce. 

Not too long ago, women were the ones who primarily gave up their jobs to stay home and look after children. Today, more and more men are choosing to postpone their careers so that their spouses can pursue higher aspirations. This means more men are staying home with children and putting themselves on an uneven financial footing with their wives in the event of a divorce.

If you gave up your job or the chance to grow in your career so that your spouse could earn more money, you might qualify for alimony payments. If your career suffered during your marriage, you might be eligible to receive alimony payments. The best thing you can do in either of these cases is to seek the assistance of a skilled family law attorney to handle your divorce.

Let Azemika Law Help You Navigate Your Divorce

Divorce is challenging in many ways. Emotions run high, and it can be difficult to see why spousal support payments need to be made. But too often, one spouse leaves a marriage with more financial security than the other, and in order to make things fairer for both parties, alimony is the best solution.

It can be easy to let pride get in the way when it comes to divorce, but if you qualify for alimony, it could help you get back on better financial footing after your marriage has ended. Whether you’re a man or a woman in the position to receive alimony payments, the best way to ensure that you are treated fairly is to hire a skilled attorney to help you navigate your divorce.

Azemika & Azemika understand that divorces and alimony are stressful and often confusing. We are devoted to helping our clients with every aspect of family law, from divorce and spousal support to child support and custody issues. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your family law needs.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Alimony in California?

If you or your spouse have filed for a divorce in California, you may be ordered to pay alimony. California functions under a “no-fault” assumption when filing for divorce. Meaning that no party needs to or can prove if the other spouse was in the wrong. So what does that mean for alimony?

Alimony means that you have been court-ordered to pay money to your spouse, typically through regular installments. You will have to continue to make payments until the time at which the court decides. If you stop making alimony payments before the court has ordered them to conclude, you could face civil or criminal charges for contempt of court.

Today, we will discuss how alimony in the state of California is defined, and the consequences you could face if you do not pay court-ordered alimony payments.

What is Alimony and How is the Amount Determined?

If you have a spouse who hasn’t worked outside being a caregiver of the home or has only held part-time employment to raise children and you two plan to divorce, then that spouse may seek to get alimony or spousal support. When determining the amount, the court will take into consideration the financial history, debts, and assets of the couple.

While going through a divorce, if both spouses are able to choose the amount and agree upon it, the court can then codify your agreement and proceed. However, if there is a dispute about how much alimony is to be paid, the court can determine the scale and conditions. Here are some of the factors that the court will take into consideration when calculating alimony:

  • If the career of the spouse was impacted by taking over childcare duties or unemployment.
  • Tax considerations.
  • Length of the marriage.
  • Health and age of both partners.
  • If there was domestic violence during the relationship.
  • If a partner helped the other get an education or professional license.
  • Property and debts
  • Each partner’s standard of living and needs.

The court can order for alimony to be paid for only a period or indefinitely. For any marriage or partnership under ten years, alimony will usually be ordered for around half of the length of the marriage. If your marriage was longer than ten years, the court has jurisdiction over the financial obligations.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay Alimony?

If you do not pay the alimony ordered by the court, then the court may implement consequences. First, the judge who ordered the alimony payments has the jurisdiction to call the payor to appear in court to explain the reason alimony payments have stopped. 

Failure to pay will result in a 10% APR penalty added to overdue payments by law. The judge has no input on this matter and can not waive these fees. Wage garnishments may also be made, deducting a portion of the payor’s regular paycheck. This means that the paying spouse’s employer will be notified that part of the paycheck must be withheld and sent directly to the spouse. However, there are other consequences the court my bestow:

  • Tax refund checks may have to be put towards the alimony payment.
  • Any property or asset that the payor may own that has value can be seized to cover the cost of the alimony owed.
  • If the payor owes a large sum of money, and the payee files for a judgment against you, the judge may rule that the payor must  pay the total amount plus interest.
  • If the court finds the payor in contempt with the order, they may order jail time.
  • The court may place a lien on the payor’s property.

Can I Terminate or Modify My Alimony?

The simple answer is yes. Either spouse can choose to request the alimony be modified, unless the original agreement specifies that modification cannot be made. 

There are two ways that you can modify alimony. 

First, you and your partner can agree to change the duration or the amount of the alimony. If this is what you and your spouse choose, there should be a written contract discussing the terms of the agreement. If you can’t agree, then your second option is to involve the courts. If this method is chosen, then you will need to file a motion into the court and prove a change in circumstances.

You may also be able to terminate your payment obligations altogether. You will also be asked to show a change of circumstances that will warrant termination. 

If the original agreement states that there is no way to terminate or modify alimony, the courts have no choice but to enforce the agreement as it stands. 

If there is a death of either spouse, alimony is terminated by default.

Let Our Expert Staff at Azemika & Azemika Law Help You Understand Alimony in California

Navigating a divorce is already a complex process. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the legal jargon when deciding if or how much alimony you or your spouse will pay. 

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we have experienced attorneys that are compassionate and willing to help you every step of the way during your divorce. We use our vast experience to customize each case based on the needs of the clients. As a result, we will help you find solutions that fit your concerns.

Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation. Let us focus on your family so that you can focus on your future.

What is the Difference Between Child Support and Alimony?

During the divorce process, there are many financial issues that you will need to work through with your spouse. Among those are the subjects of alimony and child support. People often misunderstand the difference between these two types of support.

While both are support payments typically paid by the same person, they are different, and each has a distinct set of rules. If you are thinking of filing for divorce, it’s important to know how these two types of payments differ, as well as which you might qualify for or which you may be required to pay. We are going to define each type of payment and point out the differences between each.

Alimony

Alimony (also known as spousal support) is a payment made from one spouse to another after a divorce. The intention of alimony is to help the spouse who earns less maintain the same lifestyle as before the divorce.

The courts may grant a spouse alimony in addition to child support.  If you are expecting alimony it’s important to know that the courts will not automatically grant alimony. You have to ask for it.

How Is Alimony Determined?

There isn’t a specific formula to decide if the courts should grant alimony or how they should calculate the payment amount. There are a variety of factors that go into determining alimony payments. (California Family Code section 4320)

  • The income of each spouse as well as their current employment situation
  • Each person’s living expenses
  • The division of assets during the divorce
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age of each spouse

Certain circumstances can cause the amount of the alimony payment that the court initially granted to be modified. For example, if the person paying alimony loses their job, they can ask for a reduction in the amount of alimony they pay. On the other hand, the person receiving alimony can ask for an increase when their cost of living increases.

How Is Alimony Taxed?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changes how alimony payments are taxed. Alimony determinations made before December 31, 2018, require that the person receiving the payments include them as part of their taxable income. And if you are making alimony payments, they are considered a tax deduction.

Determinations made after December 31, 2018, do not require the recipient of the payments to report them as taxable income. And if you are paying alimony, those payments are not tax-deductible.      

Child Support

Child support is money paid by the noncustodial parent to help maintain the child’s standard of living and is typically automatically granted during the divorce proceedings. The custodial parent should use it to cover medical care, food, housing, clothing, and other necessary expenses.

Unless the parents earn the same amount of income and have a 50/50 parenting plan, one parent typically spends more on the children. Child support is issued to make up for that difference.

How Is Child Support Determined?

Child support is determined based on California Family Code Sections 4050-4076. The judge will consider the following information when determining the amount of child support payments:

  • The gross income of each parent
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • Tax deductions that each parent can claim
  • How much each parent pays in health insurance, union dues, and pension
  • Child care costs paid by each parent

The courts will then plug those numbers into a complex formula that will decide the amount of the child support payments. And while this amount is presumed to be the correct amount that the courts should order, the judge can decide to increase or decrease the amount of support if the situation meets certain criteria.

How Is Child Support Taxed?

Since child support benefits the children, child support payments are not taxable. Also, the parent providing child support can not use child support payments as a tax deduction.

How Are Support Payments Made in California?

Many states use wage garnishment only in cases of non-payment. However, California requires wage garnishments for all support payments. Garnishing the payor’s wages ensures on-time payments because the payor’s employer takes the payments directly from their paycheck and submits them to the state.

Let Us Help You Get the Financial Support You Deserve From Your Divorce

As a parent, the first thing you may think of during a divorce proceeding is child support. But if you are eligible for alimony, you need to make sure that you are taken care of financially. And if the court orders you to pay child support or alimony, it’s important to know your rights and what you are legally required to do.

Having an experienced family law attorney on your side will protect your rights during your divorce. The partners at Azemika & Azemika have over 56 combined years of handling family law cases. We will help you understand your rights, and we will represent you in court and do everything in our power to get you the results you desire.

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Let us fight for you and protect you and your family during this emotional time.

The Different Types of Alimony in California

The Different Types of Alimony in California

When you go through a divorce, one of the foremost things on your mind is likely to do with finances. You may be wondering how you’re going to be able to afford to live a new life, independent from your partner. This financial concern is especially true if they’ve been the primary source of income throughout the marriage.

These thoughts can be terrifying and quite anxiety-inducing. These feelings are something that many people face as they’re going through a divorce. This time doesn’t have to make you feel afraid or anxious.

As you go through your divorce, you may qualify for financial help, also known as alimony. You’ve probably heard this word before, but you may not understand how it works. Today, we will take a closer look at how spousal support works and the varying types that exist in the state of California.

Types of Alimony Available in California

You may be eligible for different types of alimony in California. Determining which type of support you’ll receive is the first step towards establishing your financial security. 

Temporary Alimony

Also known as “temporary spousal support,” this type of alimony is paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. The lower-earning spouse may receive these payments while the divorce is still pending. This payment will help with the costs of filing for a divorce and daily living expenses. 

However, it’s essential to understand that you may stop receiving these payments once the divorce is finalized.

In most situations, you’ll be eligible for receiving temporary alimony for one-half the duration of your marriage (e.g., if you’re married for eight years, you can receive it for four years). If your marriage has lasted more than ten years, a judge may order alimony to be paid for an indefinite amount of time.

During court proceedings, a judge may order your higher-earning spouse to continue paying alimony of a different type as you take steps to establish financial footing after the divorce.

Permanent Alimony

The lesser earning spouse may also qualify for what’s known as “Permanent Alimony.” The judge determines this qualification at the end of the divorce proceedings. Here a spouse may continue to receive monthly, recurring payments either until they get remarried, or pass away.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This type of alimony is meant to give the lesser earning spouse time to become self-supporting after a divorce. Here a judge will establish a fixed period for which they will receive this financial help. During this time, the spouse must either search for a job or undertake some type of education or training that will help them to do so. Judges can order this type of alimony for up to 5 years.

Reimbursement Alimony

The reason this alimony received its name is that one ex-spouse will be reimbursing the other for their expenses. For instance, a judge may order your ex-spouse to pay for your higher education or work training program. You’ll only be awarded this type of alimony if your ex-spouse supported you throughout the relationship as you attended one of these programs.

Lump-Sum Alimony

There are two times when judges will order this time of spousal support:

  • You may receive this alimony instead of a property settlement. So, instead of receiving any property or valuable items from the marriage, you’ll receive a one-time, lump-sum payment.
  • Sometimes your ex-spouse may be ordered to make this payment to fulfill any remaining spousal support obligation. When this happens, the obligation is limited to how long it takes to make this one-time payment. Typically, you’ll receive the money immediately.

Additional Factors Regarding Alimony in California

Knowing you may be eligible for alimony in California sounds great, but there are some things you should know. This knowledge will allow you to protect yourself throughout the divorce proceedings.

To begin with, if there was a prenuptial agreement filed before marriage, you’ll want to check if it included an alimony clause. If so, this is the type of support you’ll receive.

Additionally, you need to realize that spousal support orders can be appealed and even modified. 

Seeking Alimony in California

Navigating spousal support payments can be a complex and confusing process. There are forms, documents, and court hearings to consider. Even if you and your spouse agree to the modification, consulting an attorney and ensuring you file the right paperwork is critical to your success.

At Azemika & Azemika, our law firm is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. We handle divorce cases, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. Our partners at Azemika & Azemika will put their expertise to work for you and make sure your case is customized to your needs. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.