California’s laws are designed to provide the same rights and protections in all divorces. This means that no matter your gender or who you’re married to, you should have equal access to alimony, also known as spousal support. Alimony is not always justified in every case, and different cases may require different amounts of alimony. The Ventura and Santa Barbara LGBT alimony lawyers at Bamieh and De Smeth explain how courts calculate alimony in CA.
Calculating Same Sex Spousal Support in CA
When you get divorced, your finances are separated from your now former spouse’s. California law generally presume that you divide all jointly-owned property 50/50 when you get divorced, but that property may not be enough to pay for rent, a mortgage, groceries, utilities, and other ongoing expenses. Especially if you did not work during your marriage or made vastly different income than your spouse, you may be entitled to receive alimony.
Spousal support works to ensure that parties can get divorced without needing to worry about financial stability. If one spouse relies on the other financially, they may have little choice but to stay married and continue receiving support. If the marriage is broken, abusive, or had infidelity, it is unjust to require someone to stay married because they need money. Alimony allows a spouse to walk away from the marriage, and continue to receive support. This eliminates difficult choices, like the choice between financial well-being and emotional health or physical safety.
Thinking about alimony this way reveals some of the mindset judges have when making alimony decisions. Couples who each have their own, stable finances could separate with no need for alimony. However, when one spouse makes significantly more income or one spouse does not work at all, divorce would be harder on one party, and alimony is necessary. Especially if one of the parties has health issues that require ongoing aid, it may only be fair for them to continue to get some financial support.
The actual calculation of alimony would come down to the needs of the parties. For example, the court would look at what their rent is, how much utilities cost, and other base prices. However, there are other factors that go into alimony calculations in California, too.
Alimony Factors in California
The alimony that one former spouse pays another after their divorce is not usually just the bare necessities. Instead, there are many factors that may increase alimony payments to be a much higher, reasonable income for the recipient. Because of this, the courts look at the following factors when calculating alimony:
- The standard of living the parties had while married;
- The parties’ job skills;
- Domestic duties that kept either party from working;
- Whether one party helped the other pay for a professional license;
- The payor’s ability to pay alimony;
- Each party’s needs, as determined by their standard of living;
- Each party’s debts and assets;
- The length of the marriage;
- Whether raising children will keep one party from working;
- The parties’ ages and health;
- Any history of domestic violence;
- Tax consequences of paying/receiving alimony;
- The balance of hardships between parties;
- The ability of the supported party to get back on their feet in a reasonable time period;
- Criminal convictions for abuse; and
- Other related factors the court “determines are just and equitable.”
These factors must be considered, but the court can also look to other factors the judge feels are important, as well. Many of these factors can work in either party’s favor. Additionally, they are all gender-neutral, and apply equally to same sex or opposite sex couples.
These factors help courts allocate the couple’s resources in a way that best benefits the recipient without placing too much of a burden on the payor. Maintaining their standard of living, supporting them if they have physical health needs, or paying them back for helping the payor earn a professional license are all good reasons for a court to order alimony higher than the minimum necessary to get by.
Many LGBT couples cannot have children with their spouse, and may adopt or use surrogates and/or donors. However, only about 20% of same sex couples have children. This means that a higher percentage of LGBT couples may have two spouses who work. With each party earning their own paycheck, alimony may be unnecessary in many of these marriages. However, this also means a higher standard of living during the marriage, which may mean more alimony.
Same Sex Spousal Support Orders in Ventura
The Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth work with people seeking divorces, alimony, child support, and those with other family law needs. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.