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.

How is alimony calculated in California?

People going through divorce need to know their rights and obligations regarding spousal support. Spousal support is gender-neutral, and you may either be on the receiving end or be required to pay alimony to your former spouse during or after the divorce. What exactly is alimony, and how much will you have to pay or be eligible to receive?

Spousal support, known as alimony, is a payment from one person to another during or after a divorce. In California, most judges use a standard formula when calculating support amounts. However, several factors are calculated by how much alimony you are entitled to receive or are responsible for paying.  

There are three types of spousal support in California. Temporary, Rehabilitative, and Permanent spousal support. The court must consider the controlling statute 4320 when determining spousal support. However, the courts also have a tremendous amount of discretion on what influences how much support one receives.

Alimony support is required to help make the transition from a two-income household to a one-income household less overwhelming. While it may seem unfair, the goal is to help both parties be on as stable a financial foundation as soon as possible. Therefore, the court will determine spousal support after the establishment of child support.

We will help you understand the different types of alimony and how alimony is calculated in the state of California.

What Are The Three Different Types of Alimony?

1. Temporary Alimony 

The purpose of temporary alimony support is to help the person with a lower-earning income with expenses and maintain a standard of living they are accustomed to until permanent support is determined and assets and debts are divided.  Temporary alimony is paid while the divorce is pending. There is no expiration date, and there is no set time period for support. 

2. Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of spousal support and utilized when one person was the primary earner while the other person primarily cared for the children. The goal is to support the individual and allow time for them to gain essential job skills or education so that they may join the workforce and help themselves.

3. Permanent Alimony 

The purpose of court-ordered permanent alimony support is to provide a sufficient income that will cover basic needs and standards that meet the spouse’s lifestyle receiving the support. Permanent support is generally reserved for marriages that lasted ten years or more or one person can not work due to age or illness. 

Factors For Determining Temporary Alimony Support

There are four factors the courts look at for determining temporary alimony support in California:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Expenses
  • Debts

Guidelines When Factoring Rehabilitative Or Permanent Alimony Amounts

  • Duration of Marriage
  • Assets and Debt responsibilities of each person, including properties
  • Health and Age
  • Standard of Living Established
  • The ability for the individual receiving support to have sustainable employment
  • History of domestic violence against either party or the children
  • The ability of the Supporting Party to Pay Alimony
  • The level which the supported party contributed to career, education, etc. by the spouse paying the alimony
  • The earning capacity of each person
  • Tax consequences to each person
  • The goal is that the person receiving alimony will be self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time. Generally, this period is half the length of the marriage, but this is left up to the court’s discretion and may be longer or shorter based upon the factors listed.
  • Criminal convictions In accordance with Section 4325, criminal conviction of an abusive spouse will be considered.
  • The court may include other factors that deem just and equitable, and the court will consider these in determining the alimony support amount. (CA FAM 4320)

The general guideline for calculating alimony takes 35% to 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income and subtracts 40% to 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income. Depending on what county you live in, it will vary.

Consult An Attorney

Determining or modifying your 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.

Lost Your Job During The Pandemic? What You Need To Know About Paying Alimony

Lost Your Job During The Pandemic? What You Need To Know About Paying Alimony

The pandemic changed a lot for everyone, especially those who lost their jobs. In addition to job loss, some individuals lost income from Retention Stock Units (RSU’s) that were negatively impacted by the stock market drop. In addition, small businesses closed because of stay-at-home orders and mandatory shut-ins. 

Depending on the extent of financial loss you experienced, you may be unable to continue your alimony payments in the amount you are obligated to. In some cases, you may not be able to make the payments at all.

For example, if you or your former spouse experienced job loss due to the pandemic, you might be able to modify your alimony judgment. However, there are a few things you need to know about paying alimony or modification because of job loss.

Can Alimony Be Modified?

Depending on your alimony agreement, your alimony payments may or may not be modified. If the agreement does not list it as modifiable, then it can be. If the agreement does state that it cannot be modified, it should list circumstances where it can be modified. These circumstances can be job loss, disability, or other major life events. The third option is that the agreement states in no circumstances can it be modified.

How Can It Be Modified?

If alimony can be modified, the law states that the amount can be increased or decreased as circumstances and justice requires. In this case, you must show that there has been a material change in circumstances, such as job loss or reduced income since the original agreement or court order was issued. 

Be Up Front & Honest About Your Financial Situation

Even if you’re only anticipating a change in your income, it’s crucial to talk to your ex and explain the situation. Make it clear that you want to communicate and plan to modify payments when business picks up again. A little bit of goodwill and honesty will go a long way in working to lower support payments for now.

Remember, your ex is receiving this money because they need it. They’ll have to make adjustments to their expenses too. The more communication and time you can give to help them plan, the better the negotiation will go for now and in the future.

Try To Reach An Agreement Together

If you and your ex can have an open and honest discussion about your loss of income or potential, you may want to try and discuss coming to an agreement together. Unfortunately, courts are closed to hear cases during the pandemic, and it can be months before you can have a hearing or mediation. Not to mention, you’ll save time and money working things out together.

Be mindful that your tone is critical to your success. You don’t want to say anything that could be perceived as a demand or criticism. Communicate clearly, but empathize that you understand the impact this will have on them as well. If you and your ex can agree to an agreement, make sure you get it in writing and submitted to the court as is required.

When Does The Modification Go Into Effect?

In California, spousal or partner support cannot be changed retroactively. For example, if you lost your job three months ago and are just now filing papers to change your order, the judge cannot go back to the day you lost your job. They can only go back as far as the date you filed your papers in court requesting the modification.

What Do I Need To Do To File For A Modification?

If you and your ex can come to an agreement, you need to file the request to the court. The process of filing a request for modification takes quite a few steps:

  1.  Fill out your court forms – Check out the California Courts website for specific forms to complete.
  2. Have the forms reviewed by your attorney.
  3. Make two copies of all forms for your ex and the court’s copies.
  4. File the forms with the court clerk – the clerk will keep the original and return your copies stamped “Filed.”
  5. Get a court date.
  6. Serve the papers on your ex – you must have someone other than yourself serve these papers.
  7. File proof of service – once your ex has been served, file the proof of service.
  8. Go to the court hearing – take a copy of your papers and proof of service. Bring your proof of income and expenses to support your argument for modification.

Once the judge makes a decision, they will sign a court order. Once the order is signed, it cannot be modified unless another request is submitted. 

Consult An Attorney

Modifying your 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.

What Qualifies You for Alimony in California?

Are you facing a divorce and wondering if you qualify for alimony? This is a question a lot of people ponder about – many factors will influence spousal support in the state of California. 

What qualifies you for alimony in the state of California? Figuring out alimony can get complicated. There are 4 key elements to qualifying for alimony that you will need to understand. These are: 

  • The Length of Your Marriage
  • Marital Standard of Living
  • Debts & Assets
  • Ability to Become Employed

When it comes to divorce and money, it can be overwhelming, stressful, and emotional. In this article, we will go over a few key elements the State of California will look at to see if you or your spouse will qualify for alimony.  

1. Length of Your Marriage

If you or someone you know is currently going through a divorce, then you may have heard some legal terms such as pendente lite, alimony, and long-term spousal support. Understanding these legal terms will help you understand how the length of your marriage will impact a spousal support order.

Do not forget that you and your soon-to-be ex-partner can agree to a spousal support agreement without the court’s help. This would be the best possible outcome to have instead of going through the courts. 

Once the length of your marriage has been determined, there are 5 different types of alimony you can seek.

  1. Temporary Alimony
  2. Rehabilitative Alimony
  3. Permanent Alimony
  4. Reimbursement Alimony
  5. Lump-Sum Alimony

2. Marital Standard of Living

The marital standard of living refers to the lifestyle that both parties enjoyed during the duration of their marriage. This standard of living will include considerations such as:

  • How often did the couple eat out?
  • Where the couple usually shopped for clothing
  • How much did the couple spend on their housing situation?
  • How big is the marital house? 
  • Where was the marital house located? 
  • What types of schools did the children go to? 
  • Where and how often did the couple go on vacations?

After the divorce, it is typically not feasible for both spouses to maintain the same lifestyle as they once enjoyed together. 

For example, in re Marriage of Smith, this case describes the marital standard of living within your means. This case displayed that if both parties were spending more than the income they were taking each month, this should not be a deciding factor in what the court will determine as the marital standard of living. The court will then have to look at the actual income earned rather than the amount spent. 

3. Debts & Assets

A community property state, such as California, will look at all assets and debts obtained during the duration of the marriage. If you and your spouse have accumulated assets, such as houses, cars, boats, and the like, this will all get considered during the spousal support process. However, your debts and assets that you’ve obtained before you got married will be separate.

The one thing that the court will never take into account with spousal support is your student loans. It does not matter when you took the student loans out. In the court’s eyes, student loans are considered separate property. 

But, the courts can and will consider any bank accounts that you both shared, even if one name is on the account. As long as the other party would deposit their money into it, it becomes a community property at that point. The same goes for a retirement account. 

What you should know is that each party will have an equal share of all assets. The court will divide the assets equally between both parties. However, the parties can agree to do an unequal division if they want. 

When it comes to marital debt, the courts will not get involved. The debt will have to get settled between the two parties. The courts will not make a binding contract for any debt that stemmed from the marriage. For instance, if one party says they will pay all of the marital debt but does not pay them, the creditors can still come after both of you for the total amount. 

4. Ability to Become Employed

In situations where the other party is unemployed, it is common for the supporting party to ask for the other party to get put under a work efforts order along with a request for the Gavron warning, which is under Family Code 4332(b) states: 

“In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, the court shall make specific factual findings concerning the standard of living during the marriage, and, at the request of either party, the court shall make appropriate factual determinations concerning other circumstances.”

When filing for a spousal support order, the court will advise the other party to make reasonable efforts to help them support themselves during this time. The court will also take into account all circumstances under Family Code 4320.

But also should remember that spousal support can last for only half of the length of their marriage if the marriage did not last longer than 10 years. However, if your marriage lasted longer than 10 years, there is no limit on how long the spousal support order can stay in place. This information will give you an idea of how long you may be paying for the other party.

Before You Respond or File– Let’s Talk

Before you decide to file or respond, you have a lot to think about. It can get overwhelming trying to figure out how to respond to your partners’ paperwork or figure what paperwork to file first. 

As long as you know any of these 4 qualifications to get spousal support, you are already ahead of the game. Divorcing is not pretty or easy, but understanding the law will help make it a more bearable time. 

At Azemika & Azemika, we know how spousal support works here in California because we specialize in California family law. We offer legal representation and advice based on understanding, trust, and integrity. Contact us today for your free legal consultation.