So you’ve come to an agreement with your ex regarding a spousal support award, fantastic. But what you don’t realize is that if you do not include key language and explanations of how you arrived at the agreed upon amount then you may actually be hindering yourself later on when a modification is applicable or even necessary. Too often judgments for dissolution of marriage that include a spousal support award leave out key language that is detrimental in the future. Spousal support is awarded based on Family Code 4320 and therefore any judgment containing a spousal support award should also contain the factors included in Family Code 4320, which can be looked upon in the future and considered by the court. Family Code 4320 lays out a series of factors that the court considers when establishing a spousal support award. Those factors include:
- The marital standard of living
- The skills of the person receiving the support, the job market for a person with those skills, and what further time and expense is needed to further develop those skills to make themselves more marketable
- How were the supported parties skills impaired by periods of unemployment incurred during the marriage to devote time to domestic duties
- Whether or not the supported person contributed to the supporting parties attainment of an education, training or a career
- The ability of the supporting party to pay
- The needs of the party receiving the support to live up to the marital standard
- The separate property of both parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The ability of the supported person to engage in gainful employment without it being detrimental to dependent children in their custody
- The age and health of the parties
- Documented domestic violence in the relationship or criminal convictions for the same
- Tax implications
- Hardships to both parties
- The goal that the supported party shall become self supporting after a reasonable time for short term marriages
- Any other relevant factors.
Every stipulated “agreed upon” judgment for spousal support should include the information that answers these factors so years down the road the court can look upon those factors and conclude how the amount was calculated. It gives the court a baseline and it takes away the necessity to put on a trial to establish those very same factors. This is especially important if the trial happens some years down the road and a lot of the information that was readily available at the time of the judgment is now long gone.
The absence of information opens up the realm of he said / she said which would complicate what could have been a relatively simple process. So to save you pain and heartache later and money include the factor listed in Family Code 4320 in every judgment that awards spousal support to either party. And as an added bonus every judgment should also include a Gavron Warning that lays out the public policy of the state of California that it is the intent that the supported party become self supporting after a reasonable time, unless for some reason they are unable to comply for health reasons. This too will help later in life especially if you are the supporting party.
If you have questions regarding Family Code 4320, or questions regarding filing for divorce, spousal support or other family law related matters, contact The Haynes Law Firm, APLC today at 833.526.5197 to discuss your matters confidentially.
Crista Haynes is the principal attorney at The Haynes Law Firm, APLC and is highly experienced in the areas of family law, criminal defense and estate planning.