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The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, understand this and go to great lengths to achieve the best possible results for their clients. Spousal support is often at issue in marital dissolution cases. When our client is entitled to spousal support, we vigorously pursue a plan to ensure the highest possible support award. Conversely, when we represent the payor spouse, we take all actions necessary to minimize both the amount and duration of support. Unlike child support, which is determined under California Guidelines based on income, a spousal support order award can fluctuate greatly depending on representation.

Frequently Asked Questions - Child Support / Modification

Q. Does the court discriminate based on gender when ordering spousal support?

A. No. Gender has nothing to do with Child Support. Unlike child support, which is generally determined using the statewide algorithm, spousal support is determined by the Court using factors found in California family code section 4320. And gender is not one of the factors.

Q. How much spousal support will I receive?

A. The amount of Spousal Support ordered will heavily depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Also, the Court treats temporary spousal support differently that permanent support. Indeed, a temporary support order tends to be higher than a permanent support order. Generally, the court will follow the DissoMaster guidelines to establish a temporary support order, while permanent support orders are set based on the factors set out in Family Code section 4320. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP can assist you in obtaining the best Spousal Support Order for your situation.

Q. How long will I have to pay spousal support for?

A. The length of time a spouse will be required to bay spousal support, also known as alimony, will depend on a number of factors. These factors include the length of the marriage. For marriage over ten years, unless the parties agree otherwise, the court may retain jurisdiction until the death of one of the parties. (See family code section 4336.) For marriages of less than 10 years, there is a presumption that alimony should be paid for up to the half of the length of the marriage. For example, if the parties were married for six years, the presumption is that spousal support should be paid for three years maximum. Keep in mind that each situation is different and a support order may exceed or be less than what is typically awarded.

Q. Is spousal support taxable?

A. There has been new legislation in this matter that has drastically changed how spousal support is addressed for tax purposes. Indeed, any spousal support ordered pursuant to a Court Order issued on or after January 1, 2019, is no longer deductible to the payor. Conversely, any support ordered pursuant to a Spousal Support order issued on or before December 31, 2018, is and will continue to be a deduction for the payor.

Q. Can I obtain spousal support on an emergency basis?

A. Yes. You may absolutely request temporary emergency Spousal Support, also known as "pendente lite" support. And the sooner you make the request, the sooner you will begin receiving support. This is why you should not delay in filing a request for support since it may take weeks before a hearing is set. While we often file an "ex parte" application asking the court to set an earlier hearing so that you may begin receiving support sooner, there is no guarantee that a court will grant such a request.

Q. Can a court modify a permanent spousal support order?

A. Yes. A court may modify a permanent Spousal Support order if: 1- the court retained jurisdiction to modify support and there is no provision in the judgment that the Spousal Support order is non-modifiable; and 2-there is a material change of circumstances, such as the loss of employment, the loss of health insurance, or other significant event, which materially alters the payor's income and the ability to pay.

Q. How is self-employment income treated in calculating alimony?

A. To determine the amount of Spousal Support owed, the Court must first establish the payor party's income available for support. And making this determination may be challenging when the party is self-employed. Indeed, a self-employed person's reported income is nearly always lower than his or her true income. Self-employed individuals frequently receive certain "perks" from the company, such as vehicle allowances, paid expenses, etc. These "perks" may be added-back as income for support purposes.

While obtaining tax returns is mandatory in any spousal support action, it is merely the starting point of an intense and extensive discovery process. The Support attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, in addition to demand disclosure of financial documents by the other party, will also subpoena bank records, credit card records, loan applications, business records, etc. This is the only way to obtain an accurate picture of the other party's actual income available for support. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP frequently work with forensic accountants, experts in uncovering hidden income.

Q. What happens when a support recipient remarries?

A. Unless the parties specifically agree in their divorce decree that Spousal Support will continue upon the remarriage of the payee party, Spousal Support will cease upon marriage.

Q. What happens to spousal support if one party cohabitates with someone after a spousal support order is made?

A. Unlike remarriage, which automatically terminates spousal support unless specified in the divorce judgment, a cohabitation situation carries a presumption that the supported party's needs are reduced. Therefore, it is appropriate for the payor to file a motion to reduce or terminate Spousal Support in such cases. Frequently, a party will attempt to hide the fact that there is a cohabitation situation, requiring investigation and surveillance. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have a licensed in-house investigator with over 30 years of experience in law enforcement and investigation, who is ready to jump into action and collect the necessary evidence to support your claims of cohabitation.

Call (949) 660-1400 or click "Schedule Now" to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who can assist resolving your family law matter.

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