Spousal support (also called alimony) is not a right of any spouse. The need for support must be proven to the family court judge. (Alternatively, a divorcing couple may themselves reach agreement on support and the judge can affirm that agreement with an order for support.)
Child support, on the other hand, is the right of every child. The amount of child support a parent may be ordered to pay is determined through the application of the California child support guidelines, which takes into account both parents' income as well as other factors. A parent may also be ordered to cover the child on his or her health insurance plan and to provide for additional costs, such as daycare or medical and educational costs.
An experienced attorney can be invaluable in protecting your rights and financial interests in alimony negotiations and when seeking child support. Do not place your faith in a personal promise to pay support or cover child-related expenses. A promise cannot be enforced. You need to establish parentage for your child if needed and seek a court order that defines the child support obligation.
At the law firm of Bennett & Erdman , we represent clients in the Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California in divorce and dissolution proceedings that involve a claim for spousal support or child support, and in paternity actions seeking child support. Our firm offers clients the skill of two Certified Family Law Specialists* and nearly 30 years of family law experience.
Contact Us Today
To discuss your alimony and child support concerns with a Los Angeles support lawyer who is also a Certified Family Law Specialist, call 1-877-820-6534 or contact us online and a member of our firm will respond quickly.
Spousal Support/Alimony Payments
There are two types of spousal support: "temporary" support and "permanent" support. If needed, temporary support is awarded during the period of the divorce proceedings. It is in force until the final division of assets and/or a final support order is made.
Permanent support, if needed, is awarded at the end of the divorce proceedings and provides ongoing support to the partner with less income or fewer assets. Although it is called "permanent" support, it is rare for alimony to continue forever. Spousal support may be ordered for the time a spouse is in school to upgrade his or her job skills, or it may be ordered for a set number of years, during which time the spouse works to regain financial independence.
The length of time a person receives support is usually related to the length of the marriage. In long-term marriages, particularly where one party stayed home the entire time or where one spouse is disabled, permanent support may indeed be permanent.
Child support for children of unmarried couples: Paternity (parentage) must be legally established in order for an adult to have a duty to provide support for a child. Even if both parents acknowledge parentage, one parent may have to go to court to have the other parent declared to be the presumed parent. By establishing parentage, the child gains the right to financial support and the parent gains the right to custody or visitation.
Gay and lesbian families: Many aspects of spousal support and child support law are the same for gay and lesbian couples who divorce or dissolve a domestic partnership. However, there are a few significant differences. See our page on same-sex marriage and domestic partnership to learn more.
Modifying a Support Order
The courts have seen a tremendous increase in the number of people requesting a modification of spousal or child support, usually because of a job loss or lowered income. While courts are usually sensitive to the current economic situation, a modification of a support order will not be granted unless you provide proof of a significant change in circumstances. We assist clients in making an effective case in court for reduction (or increase) in support.
On the other hand, there are some situations in which an angry former spouse seeks to punish the former partner who now receives support. He or she may falsely report lowered income from a business or quit a job in order to avoid paying the full amount of support ordered by the court. In such cases it was possible to fight a decrease in support by "imputing" income (arguing that the person could be earning more).
*Certification by the California Board of Legal Specialization.