More Money Means More Concerns
With a higher number of assets comes more potential concerns during a divorce. More money at stake could mean a longer overall battle in court as well as several additional obstacles in the way. Determining spousal support or alimony is a potential discussion in any divorce, but this issue is more concerning for those with a more complex number of assets.
How Spousal Support Is Determined
When alimony or spousal support is awarded in a divorce, the California courts draw a distinction between temporary support (support paid during the divorce process) and long-term or “permanent” support, which starts when the divorce concludes.
Temporary support is typically calculated using a very simple formula (subject to a variety of “fine-tuning” type adjustments): 50% of the high earner’s income, less 40% of the low earner’s income, equals the amount of support to be paid by the high earner to the low earner. For example, if the high earner earns $10,000 per month and the low earner earns $4,000 per month net, then temporary support will come in around $3,000 per month.
When determining permanent, or long-term, support, a judge must examine several factors when determining the amount of support. In California there are 13 such factors, the last one being “Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.” What is not considered is infidelity and other items related to “fault” because California is a “no-fault” state. While the judge is required to consider all the listed factors, the “major” factors considered are:
Need and ability to pay.
The length of the marriage.
The marital standard of living during the marriage (usually the last three years or so).
A judge will examine the factors, specifically the living standards of both parties, and will make determinations of spousal support during the divorce or alimony once the divorce is finalized. These payments will typically continue until the dependent spouse (receiving payments) is able to live self-sufficiently or remarries.
Spousal support typically runs for one-half the length of the marriage for marriages of less than 10 years. As long as spousal support is being paid, it is subject to being modified by either party.
Why Higher Earning Individuals Should Be Diligent About Support
For those getting divorced that have a higher number of assets than average, potential spousal support or alimony can be alarmingly high. That said, the amount of property the supported spouse takes away from the divorce will have an impact on how much, if any, support will be paid. This is consistent with the concept that if a party is capable of supporting themselves then they don’t need support.
Of course, another reason high earners must be diligent about this process is that, frankly, the more income there is available, the greater the likelihood of a higher support award becomes. In order to avoid uncertainty, many divorcing couples often attempt to work out an agreement on spousal support outside of court. You should absolutely involve your attorney in those discussions to protect your interests.
Attorneys Make a Difference
Hiring the right attorney to help you in your high-asset divorce better arms you in the battle for your assets. At Feinberg & Waller, APC, we take great pride in protecting our clients’ rights and assets during a divorce, and we can do the same for you.
Call us today at (866) 452-3644 or visit us online to schedule a consultation with one of our Southern California certified family law specialists.