Family Code 4337 and Termination of Child Support by Cassandra Hearn

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Financial issues are often at the very core of family law disputes. Divorce means a new financial reality for both parties, usually involving readjustments of a budget and reduced financial resources. Involved in these financial issues is often that of spousal support. California determines the existence, amount, and duration of spousal support based on a variety of factors that may be considered by the trial court judge. Of note, however, is that spousal support often does not last forever.

California Family Code 4337  is one provision that sets out the appropriate time for termination of spousal support. This section provides that “Except as otherwise agreed by the parties in writing, the obligation of a party under an order for the support of the other party terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the other party.”  In other words, if the receiving spouse remarries, he or she will automatically no longer receive spousal support unless the parties have a written agreement stating otherwise.

While this seems straightforward, like most issues in family law, there can be some complications. First, if the receiving party has remarried, the marriage must be valid. For example, in a case styled Left v. Left, the wife had a marriage ceremony, and all of her friends and family believed she actually did get married. However, she never obtained a marriage license. Moreover, the paying former husband also knew that the marriage was not a true marriage. In such a circumstance, the court ruled that the provisions of 4337 did not apply because the wife had not actually remarried.   

Another case demonstrated the particular writing requirements necessary for 4337 to be applicable. In that case, the parties had a stipulated judgment providing that if the wife were to remarry within 24 months, the spousal support would terminate. However, if she remarried after the 24-month period, the spousal support would continue as long as her new husband’s income did not exceed $400,000. The stipulated agreement made no specific mention of subsection 4337. The appellate court determined that 4337 waivers did not need to expressly mention subsection 4337. By signing the stipulated agreement, the husband was agreeing that the wife’s future remarriage would not be a reason to terminate support.

We have extensive experience in helping our clients in cases involving spousal support. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation to discuss spousal support and your divorce