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Temporary Spousal Support & Alimony - What the Courts Consider & Why

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Temporary Spousal Support & Alimony -
What the Courts Consider & Why

Contributed by: Farzad Family Law, APC

The purpose of this article is to help you understand what facts and information the court considers before awarding one spouse temporary spousal support or alimony in a divorce action. Temporary spousal support is support before trial.

One spouse often asks the other spouse for temporary spousal support (also called alimony) while the divorce action is pending. However, temporary spousal support is not automatic. If you are the party seeking it, you must first understand what facts and information the court needs to award spousal support.

During a marital dissolution proceeding, the court may order either spouse "to pay any amount that is necessary for the support" of the other spouse.

A court generally may order temporary (also called "pendente lite" for those of you who like latin) spousal support in "any amount" on the basis of the party's need and the other party's ability to pay. That is because temporary spousal support "is utilized to maintain the living conditions and standards of the parties in as close to the status quo position as possible pending trial and the division of their assets and obligations."

The key is: Maintaining the "status quo".

The court uses the marital lifestyle as a benchmark for temporary spousal support orders. While most courts recognize that the cost of running two households is greater than the cost of running one, and may modify spousal support awards accordingly, it is rare that a court denies the lower earner spouse spousal support if the support is necessary to maintain the status quo to which he or she became accustomed during the marriage.

Temporary spousal support is awarded regardless of the merits or procedural posture of the case. In other words, the court doesn't necessarily care that you will get spousal support at the end of your case before it awards you spousal support while your case is pending.

Further, the court generally is not restricted by any set of statutory guidelines in ordering temporary spousal support with one major exception: If the party requesting spousal support has a documented history of domestic violence and has a criminal conviction for domestic violence, that requesting spouse may not get spousal support.

Of course, the court may take all assets and income, and all marital expenses in consideration before it awards spousal support but generally, the most important factor is the gross income of the parties and the status quo during the marriage.

Article contributed by:
Farzad Family Law, APC
1851 East 1st Street, Suite 1150
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Telephone (714) 937-1193



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