Spousal Support is the same as Alimony.
The duration of spousal support depends on certain factors. If the marriage is short term, less than ten (10) years, then spousal support is for half the length of the marriage. If it was a long term marriage, over 10 years, then the duration of spousal support is indefinite. Spousal support can go on until death or remarriage of the supported spouse. But, if age and health permits then the supported spouse needs to “in good faith” become self-supporting, which is described below under the Gravon warning.
Good Faith to Become Self Supporting/Gravon Warning:
There are many factors that are played into how much spousal support a party gets and for how long. A long term marriage, one that is over 10 years, spousal support is indefinite. There is no end date but usually most spousal support judgments do have a Gavron warning in the order. A Gavron warning came from the case of In Re Marriage of Gavron, (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 705, 250 Cal.Rptr. 148, which provides that a supported spouse needs to become self supporting and good faith efforts must be made for the party to become self supporting. The language is as follows:
“NOTICE: It is the goal of this state that each party will make reasonable good faith efforts to become self-supporting as provided for in Family Code section 4320. The failure to make reasonable good faith efforts may be one of the factors considered by the court as a basis for modifying or terminating spousal or partner support.”
Amount of Spousal Support:
a) Temporary Spousal Support- temporary Spousal Support is calculated by a program called the “Dissomaster.” The dissomaster is a software program that is court certified and calculates the amount of spousal support to be paid by using the parties income as a factor and if any child support is to be paid that figure is also calculated in the total. Again, the dissomaster is to be used as a temporary figure to get the parties to a final judgment.
b) Permanent Spousal Support- for a final judgment the parties contemplate a permanent spousal support figure. The permanent spousal support figure is to take into consideration the Family Code Section 4320 factors some of which are as follows:
(a) The earning capacity of each party;
(b) The marketable skills of the supported party;
(c) The extent to which the supported party’s present or future
earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were
incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote
time to domestic duties;
(d) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the
attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license
by the supporting party;
(e) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support,
taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned
and unearned income, assets, and standard of living;
(f) The needs of each party based on the standard of living
established during the marriage;
(g) The obligations and assets, including the separate property,
of each party;
(h) The duration of the marriage;
(i) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful
employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent
children in the custody of the party;
(j) The age and health of the parties.
Termination of Spousal Support
For a termination of spousal support there need to be a “change of circumstances.”
Has the party sufficiently met the standard of living on his/her own?
Has the party gained employment to warrant a termination or reduction of spousal support?
Is the party receiving income by other means? Possibly gifts or support through parents or significant other?
In re Marriage of Hoffmeister [Hoffmeister II (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 351, 236 Cal.Rptr. 543, Standard of living of parties during marriage controls, not standard of living of paying spouse at time of modification proceeding.