Spousal Support/Alimony

Spousal support, also called alimony, is the payment that a court may order one spouse to pay another spouse when a couple gets divorced or separated. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the economic welfare of the lower income earning or non-income earning spouse is not unfairly affected by the separation or divorce.

The Duration and Amount of Spousal Support/Alimony

At the Order to Show Cause hearing, a judge may issue a temporary spousal support order mandating that one spouse provide financial support to the other while the terms of a legal separation or divorce are being resolved.

Although it is up to the judge to approve the final support terms, the law in California provides a presumption that if a couple was married for less than ten years alimony should be granted for half the time that that the marriage lasted. If a husband and wife were married for more than 10 years, then a court will determine the future termination date. Termination of monthly spousal support may also take place if one spouse dies or remarries.

In California, a judge must consider the duration of the marriage, the earning abilities and potential of each spouse, their expenses, age and health, as well as which parent the children—if there are any—will primarily live with. The couple’s lifestyle while married, joint and separate assets and obligations, whether one spouse actively helped the other spouse advance in his or her career or if the lower income earning spouse stayed at home to care for the children will also be considered. Degree of emotional distress will also be a factor in cases involving domestic violence.

Modification of Spousal Support/Alimony

Changes in financial or other life circumstances, such as retirement or health problems, may compel one spouse to petition for modification of spousal support. Mello & Pickering, LLP will take the necessary steps to request a modification to your spousal support order. We will also defend you against a modification order that you believe is unwarranted.

Enforcement of Spousal Support/Alimony

There are cases where the person ordered to pay spousal support cannot or will not make their monthly payments. Contempt charges, a writ of execution requesting the seizure of the delinquent spouse’s assets until payment can be made, a wage assignment order mandating that the support fee be deducted from the delinquent spouse’s paycheck, and a motion for determination of arrearages to calculate past payments owed are just some of the many remedies available to enforce a spousal support order.

Mello & Pickering, LLP is committed to helping you work out a spousal support agreement that protects your interests. We want to help you explore all of your options so you can make choices and agreements that will work for you and your family. In the event that any conflicts cannot be resolved without going to court and you would like us to litigate your case for you, we are prepared to fight for your rights.

Attorneys Jennifer Mello and Traci Pickering are family law experts in San Jose who are passionate advocates for their clients’ rights. Mello & Pickering, LLP represents clients throughout Alameda County, San Mateo County, and Santa Clara—including the cities of Campbell, Milpitas, Santa Clara, San Jose, Saratoga, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Fremont, Menlo Park, Pleasanton, Gilroy, Atherton, Morgan Hill, and Hayward—in child support, child custody, spousal support, annulment, divorce, legal separation, stepparent adoptions, paternity, property valuation and division, domestic violence/restraining orders, prenuptial agreements, and postnuptial agreements.

Please call Mello & Pickering, LLP at (408) 288-7800 for your complimentary, 20-minute consultation over the phone with Jennifer Mello or Traci Pickering. You can also reach us via e-mail.

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