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The power of a Family Court Judge : Can a Spousal Support Order be terminated

San Diego Divorce and Family Law Attorney, Paul Staley, released a new YouTube video to answer: Can a Spousal Support Order be terminated?

How Long will a Spousal Support Order be Paid?

If spousal support order is appropriate, the court is supposed to award it for a reasonable period of time, with a mind toward returning the recipient to a point where he or she can become self-supporting.  A very flexible rule, usually applied in marriages of less than ten years, is that spousal support shouldn’t go on for longer than half the length of the marriage.  In fact, that’s the “presumption” under California law, but it’s a pretty soft presumption, so don’t count on it as an absolute.  If the facts of the case call for it, the court can order spousal support for a longer or shorter time.

So how do you know if you’re entitled to spousal support?  Assuming that the two of you can’t agree about it, the family court judge will look at several things, including:

  • The extent to which each of you has enough earning capacity to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Whether the spouse asking for support helped the other spouse get a better job by contributing to his or her education, training, professional license, etc.;
  • Whether the spouse that would be paying has the ability to pay, without lowering the marital standard of living;
  •  What each of you needs, in order to keep up the marital standard of living;
  • The assets and debts that each of you will have after the divorce;
  • The length of marriage;
  • For the spouse who wants support, his or her ability to work (including whether this would interfere with caring for the couple’s children);
  • Domestic violence during the marriage;
  • The tax consequences and economic hardships that would result for each party.

Transcript of Paul’s Video

Can a support order be terminated?

Can a support order be terminated? Absolutely. Support orders are made based on financial circumstances of the parties at the time the order was made. If those circumstances change, the court certainly can change the order or terminate it. When it comes to child support, the child support obligations end by operation of law when children emancipate – and that’s when they’re 18 years old and graduate from high school —generally. Spousal support, again, the orders are made based on the financial circumstances of the parties when the order was made. If you’ve got a situation were it’s a relatively short marriage; you’ve got a temporary order and you see the divorce is taking longer than anyone planned, the spouse who is obligated to pay support might wanna come into court on a motion and say:”Hey look, this was a three year marriage, I’ve been paying support for two, let’s be done already.” And that request would probably be granted.

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