Acquiring spousal support – that is, alimony – after a divorce can be quite difficult in many cases, and it does not matter if your divorce ended a same-sex marriage or a male-female marriage – the same types of difficulties will be encountered.

Under what circumstances are spousal support payments ordered after a same-sex divorce in California? Under what circumstances are requests for spousal support payments denied? Can a Walnut Creek spousal support lawyer help?

WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT DIVORCING IN CALIFORNIA?

Here is what’s most important to remember. If you are part of an alimony dispute in this state – either during or subsequent to a same-sex divorce – it is imperative to have the help of an experienced attorney from the very beginning of the legal process.

According to Attorney Mujdah Rajim, “Same sex couple divorce is treated like any divorces.  Same sex couples should not be plagued by gender role biases, and the court will calculate temporary and permanent spousal support like any other divorcing couple.”

That being said, a same-sex spouse may seek spousal support after a divorce if he or she did not work during the marriage or cannot earn sufficient income after the divorce. After a divorce, some spouses may not have sufficient job training or work experience to land a job immediately.

gavel in court

When one partner has worked only part-time or has stayed home to raise children or to support the other partner’s career, that spouse may seek alimony in a divorce proceeding from the full-time income-earning partner.

WHAT DETERMINES THE AMOUNT OF ALIMONY THAT A COURT ORDERS?

The spousal support amount that a court in California may award to an ex-spouse in a same-sex divorce will hinge on each partner’s specific financial condition, assets, history, and current income.

However, if divorcing same-sex spouses can arrive at a mutual agreement concerning alimony payments, a court will almost certainly approve that voluntary arrangement. If there’s a dispute, after deciding who pays whom, the court will decide the amount and conditions of the alimony.

Alimony payments may be made in several ways in this state. If you anticipate that you will pay alimony, familiarize yourself with the options. A “lump sum” alimony payment, like it sounds, is a final payment made “for all time” rather than paid monthly or on some other schedule.

WILL YOU RECEIVE OR PAY ALIMONY TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY?

In some California divorces, alimony is temporary; in other divorces, alimony is considered permanent. Temporary alimony payments are made for a specific period of time and end on a specific date.

“Permanent” payments may also come to an end, but for permanent alimony to cease, a court must make a modification to the court order for spousal support. When exes cannot agree about alimony, a court will decide how much should be paid and what payment method is appropriate.

arranging spousal support

If you seek “permanent” alimony, a variety of factors will be scrutinized by the court. Having the insights and advice of a seasoned California spousal support attorney is imperative if you are requesting spousal support.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED BEFORE AN ALIMONY ORDER IS ISSUED?

What does a California family court take into account when determining a proper amount of spousal support and an appropriate payment method? As mentioned previously, each partner’s personal financial condition, history, assets, and current income are taken into consideration.

If you can cooperate and work with your ex-spouse, or if you are able to make a complete spousal support payment in a single lump sum, you can probably avoid future disputes with your ex-spouse.

If you are requesting spousal support, you may get more with a lump sum payment, because inflation is estimated and calculated into the determination of the final lump sum payment amount.

WILL ALIMONY HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOUR TAXES?

However, you will need to consider how a lump sum payment affects your tax situation. Alimony is seen as taxable income by the California state government and the IRS, so if you get a lump sum alimony payment, you will pay all of the tax at once on the full payment amount.

alimony in court

Every divorce and every alimony agreement will have significant tax implications, so it is imperative to be advised by an experienced divorce lawyer who is familiar with the financial questions that may arise in a California divorce proceeding.

When either ex-partner’s life situation changes, either may request from the court a modification of the court’s spousal support order. An illness or disability, a relocation, a job loss, or a new spouse or child are some of the reasons why a family court may modify a spousal support order.

Speak first, however, with a reliable divorce lawyer before you make a final decision about taking any alimony-related legal action.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT ALIMONY IN CALIFORNIA?

A divorcing spouse who has a criminal conviction on a domestic violence charge in the last five years can be denied spousal support or may have the requested amount reduced by the court.

Your ex should not be receiving alimony if he or she has the ability to be self-supporting. On the other hand, if you made sacrifices on behalf of your spouse and his or her career, you may be entitled to some amount of spousal support.

Alimony is a contentious area of family law. Some ex-spouses resist the idea of alimony payments, but if the court orders you to pay alimony and you don’t, enforcement can be harsh.

WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT RECEIVING ALIMONY THAT HAS BEEN ORDERED?

If you’re not getting the spousal support payments that a California family court has ordered, you can seek mediation or take legal action. In the mediation process, the ex-spouses and a neutral mediator work together to craft an alimony agreement that’s acceptable to both sides.

mediation process

If you bring a lawsuit against your ex, you may have to make a court appearance, and you’ll have to have an attorney’s help. As a final resort when alimony isn’t being paid, you and your attorney may ask a California judge to find your ex in contempt of court.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID A DISPUTE OVER ALIMONY?

How can same-sex spouses avoid an alimony dispute? A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can “lock in” an alimony arrangement that will be enforced by a California court. However, that agreement must be drafted by an attorney who has abundant experience in California family law.

Of course, what is most important about alimony is that both ex-partners are treated fairly. Divorcing same-sex spouses in California can ensure they will receive fair treatment by working with a Walnut Creek spousal support attorney from the start of the divorce process.

Nothing is more important than your future. When a divorce is inevitable, you’re going to need a good divorce lawyer’s help. That’s your right, and your future could depend on it.