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Spousal Support, Alimony & Division of Property

Unlike child support, the court has great discretion as to how much spousal support will be given, and for what period of time. The Law Office of Karen R. Leder in Elk Grove, California, can advise you on establishing or resisting either temporary or permanent spousal support. We also handle property division negotiations and litigation with a view toward meeting each client's needs to the greatest possible extent.

Spousal Support

The Guideline Formula discussed under our section on child support also applies to temporary spousal support. However, unlike child support, the court has discretion to ignore the guideline amount of spousal support and order another figure it believes is more fair or better meets the parties' collective financial needs. Thus, the first step is to go over a Guideline Formula calculation, and see what figures and amounts are most advantageous to include in the calculation. If that calculation is not in a person's best interests, an attorney can attempt to craft arguments for why the court should deviate from that formula. There is an infinite number of ways temporary spousal support can be handled, and it is important for each party to be aware of all the options before choosing a strategy to be argued to the court.

Tax Implications of Support

Each party should also be aware that spousal support is a tax write-off to the paying party and a source of taxable income for the receiving party. Thus, there are creative ways to increase the collective parties' after-tax income and decrease each party's tax liability.

Permanent Support

Permanent spousal support, as opposed to temporary spousal support, is the amount of support that will be paid after entry of judgment in the case. Typically, if the parties cannot amicably reach an agreement, the case is set for a settlement conference and trial. At the settlement conference, the parties meet to work out a global settlement of their case that includes property division and the amount of post-judgment spousal support, if any. The court cannot use the guideline formula, but must exercise its discretion to consider and weigh a number of different factors that are enumerated and discussed in the Family Code, including the supported party's needs, the supporting party's ability to pay, the lifestyle of the marriage, the parties' relative earning capacities, etc.

This vital issue is where an attorney can make or break a case. If spousal support is an important issue in your case, it is imperative to get professional counseling and assistance. Since our firm provides free telephone consultations, call us to take advantage of the opportunity for some professional input.


Property Division

In theory, property division law in California is extremely straightforward, but it can be very complex in application. California courts divide everything in half without considering fault or who earned more money during the marriage. Simply stated, anything acquired during the marriage using earnings salary/wages actively earned during the marriage is community property. Gifts and inheritances are the recipient's separate property and are not divided between the parties. Ultimately, California law provides for each party to receive assets/debts with a cumulative value equal to the value of the assets/debts the other party receives. While that is what a judge would order at trial, the parties are welcome to agree to an unequal division if that is their preference or better serves their needs.

Division of Property Variations

Although there is an equal division rule of thumb, there are also scores of ways to divide the pie. There are many considerations and many opportunities for creative solutions. Both parties should consider what they really need and want, such as the house to live in now versus retirement funds for the future. Additional considerations include thinking about which assets are most likely to increase in value in the future, how to provide for the children's needs and education costs, which assets or debts provide a tax savings to one of the parties, etc.

Efficient Legal Services

In short, anyone getting involved in a divorce should discuss his or her property concerns with an attorney prior to formulating a plan of action. This firm welcomes clients who can amicably resolve the property issues in their case. We encourage them to come to their first appointment with a proposal. We work hard to quickly document the settlement without letting the deal fall apart due to passage of time or changing emotions. Many property issues can be mediated for minimal cost, resulting in both parties avoiding unnecessary legal fees.