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How Spousal Support in San Diego Is Calculated

spousal support in San Diego

How Spousal Support in San Diego Is Calculated

One of the most significant sources of conflict in a divorce is the payment of spousal support. Often, the payor spouse doesn’t feel like the payment amount is fair or the duration is too long. How spousal support in San Diego is calculated is based on 14 different factors listed in the family law code known as Section 4320. Most legal professionals call it the “4320 factors.” Below are the elements listed on the California Legislative Website, we will briefly elaborate how they may impact your payment of spousal support.

(1) The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.

The earning ability of each spouse is analyzed to determine if any time is needed for the payee spouse to gain employment. For example, a spouse who has a masters degree in engineering will not need much time to find a job or may have one already. However, a spouse with a high school diploma who has been out of the job market for 10+ years will need time to gain marketable skills.

(2) 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.

When calculating spousal support in San Diego, this comes into play when one spouse has been out of the job market for long periods of time to care for children. Their earning capacity has been impacted, and it must be taken into account.

(b) 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.

If one spouse has worked and paid the majority of the bills for the other spouse to gain a degree, this will be taken into account when calculating spousal support in San Diego.

(c) 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.

The payor’s ability to earn income and maintain a standard of living will also be taken into account. The goal is to have both spouse’s needs taken care of.

(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

This can be a problematic factor since going from a two income household to now having two households with one income is an adjustment. For many, this puts a tremendous financial strain on both sides initially. The overall goal is for each party to have the same standard of living that was established when they were married.

(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.

If one party has a large number of assets or debts, then that is taken into account.

(f) The duration of the marriage.

Typically, spousal support is calculated for half the duration of the marriage. This is not a hard and fast rule. Marriages that are more than ten years are known as “marriages of long duration” and depending on the circumstances, may warrant spousal support payments for much longer. In fact, one of the factors states: “(l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration, as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court’s discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.

(g) 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.

The kids will always come first. If it is unduly burdensome on the children for one spouse to work long hours, then spousal support may be adjusted.

(h) The age and health of the parties.

With “silver divorces” becoming more and more popular, this factor is taken into consideration a lot more. When both parties are retired, and on a fixed income, it is very much a part of the spousal support in San Diego discussion.

(i) Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party’s child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.

When there may be complex tax consequences, we always advise our clients to meet with a tax professional, like a CPA.

(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.

(m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.

(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

We hope that this breakdown has been helpful. If you have any questions regarding how spousal support in San Diego is calculated, contact our San Diego mediators at (858) 736-2411 today!