temporary support

Spousal Support Basics for While Your Divorce is Pending by Cassandra Hearn


Ending a marriage is always a difficult decision. The decision is often made more difficult and complicated by the fact that separating can be financially difficult for both spouses. Temporary spousal support (also called alimony) can be awarded to the economically disadvantaged spouse to help with the turbulent transition from living as a married couple to living in two separate households. 

 Temporary alimony may be awarded when a judge determines that one spouse needs assistance in paying bills and establishing a new household (or continuing to keep up the marital residence, if that spouse remains in the house). Either spouse may file a motion to request that the court establish an order for temporary spousal support. Each county in California has different rules to govern how to determine what is an appropriate amount of support, but most of Southern California, including San Diego, uses the same statutory formula. 

 Under this method of calculation, and often utilizing a tool called the “Dissomaster,” the court calculates the net income of each spouse, after child support has been taken into account. The receiving spouse may be entitled to forty percent of the net income of the paying spouse, minus fifty percent of the income of the receiving spouse. Complicating matters further is the fact that the tax consequences of alimony will be taken into account. Alimony is deductible for the paying spouse, and taxable income to the paid spouse. 

 After the correct figure is calculated, the trial court has the ability to adjust the amount of support up or down to account for "special circumstances," and other factors the court may consider as “just.”  These special circumstances can include a variety of factors, such as a large amount of marital debt being paid by one spouse or child support obligation being paid for a child not of the marriage, the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage, and other factors such as proof of domestic violence in the relationship. 

 Unlike child support, where there is a duty to support a child, there is no presumption that a spouse has a "duty" to support the other spouse. In order to obtain temporary spousal support, a spouse must file a motion with the court requesting an order for temporary support. A party requesting support must produce evidence of what income and expenses he or she has.

 Temporary support orders tend to be higher than permanent support. This is because temporary support is meant to help the supported spouse with the initial and difficult transition. The expectation is that by the time the final order has been entered at the end of the divorce, the supported spouse will have made the initial transition and will not need as much support. For a detailed explanation of the factors the court considers when making final support orders, click here. 

 If you are facing a request for temporary support or if you are in need of temporary support, call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation. We look forward to answering your questions about starting your divorce and setting temporary support.