FAMILY LAW OFFICES
 OF ALAN SHIFMAN


Child Support and Spousal Support

CHILD SUPPORT

Child support is an important and sometimes contentious consideration in California divorce cases. In some cases you and your spouse will be able to agree on a reasonable child support arrangement. In other cases the amount of support will be determined by the courts. With his C.P.A. background, Alan has a unique ability to access your rights and seek the best possible outcome for you.

Both parents are responsible for supporting your children if they are under age 18. The amount of child support is determined using an established formula that factors in the number of children, each parent's income, and the amount of time the children spend in the care of each parent.

There are several exceptions to the formula used by the family court to determine child support. The guidelines used by the courts won't apply if both you and your spouse can agree on an amount and the needs of the child or children will be adequately met.

Other factors may include child or spousal support from a prior relationship. If one party is paying support that is either covered by another court order or that follows the guidelines laid out by the courts, that amount will be deducted from that spouse's income for purposes of determining support in your current case.

If different children spend substantially different amounts of time with each parent, the formula used by the family court won't apply, and an exception will be granted. In those cases, the court will likely determine an appropriate child support amount without relying on the standard guidelines.

If one or more of your children have special medical needs, that will affect the amount of the support award. Also, if parents have equal custody of the children but one parent pays a substantially higher percentage of income for housing, the court may adjust the support amount.

Child support is not considered income by federal and state tax authorities, so the parent paying cannot claim it as a deduction on federal or California tax returns.

In some cases, the state will collect child support payments on one parent's behalf. You can also request a wage assignment order that requires the employer of the parent paying support to deduct that amount from the individual's paycheck. The money will then be paid directly to the parent entitled to receive support.

Child support negotiations in California divorce cases can be complex and technical, so you need an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process, either by representing you in all negotiations and court appearances or with limited scope representations. California divorce lawyer Alan Shifman can answer all of your questions about child support issues during a free consultation.



SPOUSAL SUPPORT

In California divorce cases, the court may order one individual to pay spousal support, or alimony, to the other spouse. Whether the court will order alimony payments in your California divorce case will depend on a number of factors. .

Alimony is not mandatory in California divorce cases, although the court must consider 14 factors in deciding whether to order spousal support, it's left to the judge's discretion.

To determine whether to order alimony in your California divorce case, the court will weigh your standard of living as a married couple and each spouse's needs and ability to pay. It's important to note that the supporting spouse's ability to pay at the time of the hearing – not during the time you were married – will determine the alimony the court orders.

In addition to weighing your standard of living during your marriage, the judge will also consider whether one spouse contributed significantly to the other's education, training, and career advancement. If so, the judge may determine that spouse is entitled to a fair percentage of the other spouse's earnings.

The length of your marriage and the amount of time one spouse was out of the job market because of marital or family responsibilities will be a deciding factor in determining alimony in a California divorce case. In general, the courts are less likely to order spousal support in divorce cases where the marriage lasted less than 10 years.

A spouse who is responsible for caring for the couple's minor children may receive an alimony award even if the marriage was of short duration. The court may determine that the custodial parent's employment will interfere with the care of the children, and order the other spouse to pay alimony to make up for that lost income.

In ordering alimony payments, the court can set a “self-support” goal for the spouse receiving payments, meaning that the supported spouse is expected to find gainful employment within a reasonable length of time. The time limit is typically half the length of the marriage.

You and your spouse's debts and assets, including real estate, will also influence the judge in determining alimony in a California divorce case. Real estate that generates income or has the potential to do so that is held by the spouse seeking support may result in the elimination of alimony payments.

A history of domestic violence or spousal abuse will impact alimony in a California divorce case. California law prevents a victim of domestic violence from being ordered to support a spouse convicted of abuse.

The court can also consider a number of other factors in determining an alimony order in California divorce cases, including the age and health of both spouses, relative hardships, and tax consequences to both spouses. The spouse receiving alimony will be required to pay federal and state income taxes on the support, and the one making the payments will be entitled to a tax deduction.

Even a spouse who isn't seeking alimony payments at the time of a California divorce can ask the judge to reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support at some time in the future. The judge is most likely to grant this request if the marriage lasted for 10 years or longer.

Alimony can be a polarizing issue in a California divorce case, so it's critical to have an experienced family law attorney with the skills to negotiate on your behalf. An attorney can assist you either by representing you in all negotiations and court appearances or through limited-scope representation. California divorce lawyer Alan Shifman will work to safeguard your rights and ensure that any spousal support order is fair and equitable. Contact him today for a free consultation.