Temporary Spousal Support in California


Separating from your spouse is emotionally difficult, even before discussing spousal support (alimony). During a dissolution or legal separation, there are two forms of spousal support: temporary (or pendente lite), and permanent (or judgment). This is a guide to temporary spousal support.


If you’re struggling financially after separation, if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to afford your own living expenses if you’re ordered to pay spousal support, or if you’re worried about the financial implications and potential hardships if you separate from your spouse, call our office to schedule your free consultation regarding temporary spousal support.


What is Temporary Spousal Support?

Temporary spousal support or pendente lite support, previously called alimony, is an order designed for financial support to one partner after separation, pending further orders in a dissolution of marriage or legal separation action. Unless agreed upon between the parties and formalized in a written agreement filed with the court, temporary spousal support is ordered after one party files a Request for Order, or motion, seeking support. Generally, temporary spousal support can only be ordered retroactively to the date the motion was filed.


Temporary spousal support is used to preserve the “status quo”, or to maintain the marital standard of living (to the extent possible), pending final judgment.


How is Temporary Spousal Support Calculated?

When one party files a motion seeking temporary spousal support, both parties must file an Income and Expense Declaration and exchange financial documents as guided by local court rules. Each party’s gross income, tax filing status, and relevant deductions are used in calculating temporary spousal support utilizing the court-approved software, DissoMaster™, which formulates a “guideline” support figure. DissoMaster™ accounts for each party’s tax-basis and disposable net income when making the guideline calculation. Living expenses are generally not accounted for when calculating temporary spousal support.


There are some exceptions to only using a party’s gross income, such as if either party should be imputed income they can reasonably earn, or if there are necessary “add-backs” for a self-employed party. The court may also consider a party’s assets and if they can reasonably be income-producing. The court has the discretion to deviate from guideline support if the circumstances warrant a deviation upward or downward, however, this is done on a case-by-case basis.


Who Qualifies for Temporary Spousal Support?

There isn’t one answer as to who may qualify to receive a temporary spousal support order, as the court takes into consideration the income for each party, the earning ability for both parties where applicable, and any extraordinary hardships either party may be facing. In most circumstances, a spouse who has been found to commit domestic violence against the other spouse or the children will not be paid spousal support.


When to Request Temporary Spousal Support

Timing is imperative in requesting a temporary spousal support order, as retroactivity is limited to the date the motion or request was filed. It’s important to file a request, or oppose a request, for temporary spousal support quickly and timely. Don’t let the fear of the “what ifs” prevent you from knowing your rights regarding temporary spousal support.


Schedule a Free Consultation

If you’re struggling financially after separation, if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to afford your own living expenses if you’re ordered to pay spousal support, or if you’re worried about the financial implications and potential hardships if you separate from your spouse, call our office to schedule your free consultation regarding temporary spousal support today.


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Legal Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is not intended to create, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The information herein is not intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice. Author is an attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California, and the information provided is based solely on California Law unless otherwise stated.