Spousal support, or alimony, is the amount of money the supported spouse will receive each month. The amount will be determined by order of the court or by agreement of the parties. There are two categories of alimony, temporary and “permanent”. It is usually taxable to the recipient and tax deductible by the payor.
Temporary Spousal Support Order
Temporary spousal support is the support that is paid between the time the parties separate and when the divorce is finalized, whether by agreement or trial. The purpose of temporary spousal support is to allow the supported party the ability to adjust from the marital standard of living to the eventual support received in the final order. Temporary spousal support is generally higher than “permanent” spousal support.
When ordered by the court, temporary spousal support is typically a guideline amount calculated by a computer program. It is generally based upon each party’s:
- Tax deductions
- Medical Insurance Costs
- Mortgage Interest
- Property Deductions
- As Well as Child Support Considerations
The attorneys at Denham & Britt, LLP have the tools and knowledge to help guide and advise you in this area. It is important that you discuss this issue with us at the earliest opportunity because there are timing and strategy considerations that must be addressed.
“Permanent” Spousal Support Order (Not Necessarily Permanent)
A final or “permanent” spousal support order is entered at end of the divorce, again whether by agreement or trial. A “permanent” spousal support order can have a termination date or be ordered indefinitely.
Judges are given very wide discretion in making spousal support orders and can vary widely by judicial officer in the amount and duration. In short-term marriages, generally those that are less than 10 years, the court will typically order alimony paid for a period of time equal to half the length of the marriage but are not required to do so. In long-term marriages, the court may order support paid indefinitely. The court must consider all of the factors contained in Family Code section 4320 before making a final or “permanent” support order. “Permanent” support orders are generally lower than temporary support orders.
Modification of Spousal Support
Unless the parties have an order not to seek changes in alimony, either party may request modification or termination of alimony payments due to a material change in circumstances. A material change in circumstance is very fact specific to each case. Therefore, it is crucial to contact Denham & Britt, LLP as soon as a situation arises so you can determine whether it is appropriate to seek modification. Judges continue to have wide discretion in making any modification to alimony orders. Even though circumstances may change, the order remains in effect until changed by the court. Alimony terminates on the death of either party, or on the remarriage of the payee, absent an order stating otherwise.