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Family Law
Factors that are considered in an award of Spousal Support
Browse: 2264       Date:06-04-2012     

The purpose of spousal support is not defined by the legislature in that its purpose varies according to the facts and circumstances of each case. The facts and circumstances of a particular case may be such which call for no spousal support, or for support for a very limited period of time, with the purpose to assist the supported spouse to “get back on his or her feet” as a single person, or until community property is distributed. On the other hand, the facts and circumstances of another case may call for support for an extended period of time, perhaps until death of the supported spouse, the purpose for which to provide assistance to one who cannot support himself.

The two situations mentioned hereinabove are extreme cases, on opposite ends of the spectrum. Quite obviously, the facts and circumstances in a particular case may be such which call for some amount of support for some period of time, though not until death of the supported spouse. For example, the court may order support for that period of time required for the supported spouse to obtain or complete an education, to allow the supported spouse to take care of the children until they reach an age where a return to employment would be more feasible, or to become self-supporting within a reasonable time.

Although the use of standard guidelines based on income is encouraged in the award of temporary support, such guidelines cannot be used in awarding permanent spousal support. As indicated hereinabove, the award of support is in large part based on the facts and circumstances of the particular case. In determining spousal support, the court considers numerous factors, set forth in Family Code Sec. 4320. They include:
1. The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage,
2. 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,
3. 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,
4. The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage,
5.The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party,
6. The duration of the marriage,
7. 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, and
8. The age and health of the parties.

The factors set forth hereinabove are only several of the many factors the court will consider in deciding the issue of spousal support. In that the amount and duration of an award is largely based on the facts and circumstances of the case, it is advised that one who is requesting support, or is opposing a request for support, obtain experienced counsel, who will be able to present the facts and circumstances in the best light possible.

Source: Asian Journal