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Family Law FAQ

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Below are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning family law:
When Should I Get A Restraining Order?

In cases where there is a history of abuse or domestic violence between the couple, a restraining order must be sought. This protects the abused spouse and the children (if any). A restraining order against an abusive spouse can be filed even if a petition for divorce is not yet filed.

If you have more questions regarding family law or if you want to have your case reviewed by one of our attorneys, call Anthoor Law Group at 510-794-2887. Schedule an initial consultation to explore your legal options.

Are Ex-spouses Always Entitled To Alimony?

When it comes to divorce and the complex financial problems that come with it, the question of alimony, also known as spousal support, frequently comes up. In California, spousal support is a crucial aspect of divorce settlements, but it's not always a guarantee. Let's dive into the world of alimony to understand the factors that influence its approval and duration.

What is Alimony/Spousal Support?

Alimony, or spousal support, is a financial arrangement in which one spouse provides financial support to the other after a divorce or separation. The primary objective is to help the lower-earning or non-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage. There are various types of spousal support.

Is Alimony Mandatory in California?

Contrary to common belief, alimony is not always mandatory in California. It's typically determined based on various factors, and the court has the discretion to award or deny it. Alimony decisions aim to be fair and equitable, rather than automatic.

An ex-spouse may be entitled to alimony if his/her financial capacity is significantly less than the other. If there is a disparity between the couple’s incomes to maintain the same standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage, the lower-earning spouse may be entitled to spousal support.

How Much Alimony Does a Spouse Get in California?

The amount of alimony a spouse receives in California is influenced by several factors, including:

  1. Income Disparity: The difference in income between the spouses.
  2. Duration of Marriage: Longer marriages often result in longer and potentially higher alimony payments.
  3. Needs and Abilities: The supported spouse's financial needs and the paying spouse's ability to meet those needs.
  4. Standard of Living: The standard of living established during the marriage.
  5. Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses.
  6. Contributions: Non-financial contributions made by the supported spouse to the other spouse's education, career, or household.

Is Alimony Taxable in California?

Alimony was previously considered taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the payer. However, the taxation of alimony on federal tax returns has undergone recent adjustments due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). Presently, alimony linked to divorce or separation agreements executed on or after January 1, 2019, no longer qualify for tax deductions for the payer. Furthermore, the recipient of alimony is not required to declare the received alimony as taxable income.

In the absence of any alterations, alimony payments for agreements made before January 1, 2019, are typically eligible for deduction by the payer and are considered taxable income for the recipient.

Take note, however, that these tax laws can change, so it's essential to stay informed about the current tax implications of alimony and how California law might affect it.

How Long is Alimony Paid in California?

Alimony in California can be temporary or long-term, depending on the circumstances. Temporary spousal support is generally paid to support the recipient during the divorce proceedings. Long-term or permanent spousal support may be awarded in marriages of long duration, and it typically continues until certain conditions are met, such as the recipient's remarriage or the death of either spouse.

In cases where the marriage duration is less than ten years, the judge could potentially award spousal support for a period of up to half the length of the marriage. However, if your marriage lasted more than ten years, the judge has the discretion to determine a spousal support duration that may be longer or shorter. In situations involving marriages exceeding ten years, it's important to note that judges are not authorized to completely eliminate spousal support, although they may set the support amount to zero.

Does California Have Permanent Spousal Support?

Our state laws don't explicitly provide for permanent alimony. However, spousal support in California can be influenced by the duration of the marriage. In long-term marriages, where one spouse is unlikely to become self-supporting, the court may order spousal support for an indefinite duration.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in California?

Not every divorcing spouse qualifies for alimony. Alimony is typically considered for spouses who have a significant income disparity and a demonstrated need for financial support. Additionally, spouses who have sacrificed their careers or education to support the other spouse's professional pursuits may have a stronger case for alimony.

Can You Modify Alimony in California?

Yes, alimony orders can often be modified. If there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a substantial change in income for either party, the loss of a job, or retirement, you can request a modification of the alimony order through the court.

When Can a Spousal Support Order be Terminated?

If you can demonstrate a legally acceptable change in circumstances to the court, you may have the opportunity to end your responsibility for paying spousal support, unless the court order specifically rendered it non-terminable.

Such circumstances that might justify the termination of spousal support include:

  • Reaching the age of 65 and retiring.
  • A reduction in your income due to uncontrollable events like a significant accident or illness.
  • Your former spouse's remarriage or registration of a new domestic partnership.
  • An increase in your former spouse's income.

Exceptional Legal Advice and Assistance Regarding Alimony in California

Alimony in California is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement. It's determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account various factors and the specific circumstances of the divorcing couple. If you're navigating the complexities of spousal support or looking to make modifications to spousal support payments, seeking legal guidance is crucial to ensure your rights and financial well-being are protected.

For expert legal assistance in spousal support and family law matters, consider reaching out to Anthoor Law Group. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the intricacies of California's alimony laws and work toward a fair resolution that aligns with your needs and circumstances. Don't hesitate to contact us to discuss your situation and explore your legal options.

What Can I Do If My Ex-spouse Refuses To Pay Child Support?

Child support is an essential element of family law in California, designed to ensure that children receive the financial support they need, regardless of their parents' relationship status. In theory, child support is a court-ordered obligation that every noncustodial parent must fulfill. 

Unfortunately, not all ex-spouses abide by this duty willingly, which can have a significant impact on the receiving spouse and, most importantly, the well-being of the children involved. In such cases, it's crucial to understand the options available to enforce child support orders and seek the legal assistance necessary to secure the support your child deserves.

Steps to Ensure Child Support Payments

Child support orders are not optional; they are legally binding court orders. When an ex-spouse refuses to pay child support, it can be both frustrating and financially burdensome for the custodial parent. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. If your ex-spouse has missed a payment, and especially if this is the first time it’s happened, it may simply be an error of oversight. It is best to personally reach out and remind them about it at first. But if your ex-spouse cannot be contacted or located, or is adamantly refusing to pay child support, then it is best to take the appropriate legal steps.
  2. Contact the Child Support Agency: Start by reaching out to your local child support agency. They have resources and tools at their disposal to help enforce child support orders, such as income withholding, property liens, and more.
  3. File a Motion for Contempt: If the issue persists, you can file a motion for contempt with the court that issued the child support order. This motion alerts the court to the noncompliance and may result in legal consequences for the non-paying ex-spouse.

Common Enforcement Options in California

California provides various tools for enforcing child support orders, and the court takes non-payment seriously. Common enforcement options include:

  • Income Withholding: This process involves deducting child support directly from the noncustodial parent's wages or other income sources. Employers are legally required to comply with income withholding orders.
  • Driver's License Suspension: In cases of prolonged non-payment, the court can suspend the noncustodial parent's driver's license, making it more challenging for them to continue their daily activities.
  • Bank Account Levies: The court may order the freezing and seizure of funds from the non-paying parent's bank accounts.
  • Property Liens: To secure unpaid child support, the court can place liens on the noncustodial parent's property, which must be paid off before they can sell or transfer the assets.
  • Passport denial: Should your former spouse fail to meet their support payments by a specified amount, the U.S. State Department might reject their passport renewal request.
  • Earning withholding orders: An order for withholding earnings empowers the government to intercept federal and state tax refunds, alongside other payments owed to your ex-partner (for instance, lottery winnings).

Other Penalties for Non-Payment of Child Support in California

California law takes a strong stance on child support non-payment, and individuals who fail to meet their obligations may face additional penalties. Some of these may include:

  • Interest on Arrears: Unpaid child support amounts can accrue interest, increasing the total amount owed over time.
  • Contempt of Court: As mentioned earlier, the court can hold the non-paying parent in contempt, which may lead to fines, penalties, or even jail time.
  • Credit Reporting: Unpaid child support can negatively affect the noncustodial parent's credit score, making it more challenging for them to secure loans or housing.

Can I Withhold Visitation if My Ex-Spouse Doesn't Pay Child Support?

In California, it is generally not advisable to withhold visitation as a response to non-payment of child support. The right to visitation and the obligation to pay child support are considered separate legal matters. Courts emphasize the best interests of the child, and withholding visitation could result in legal consequences for the custodial parent. 

The court has various actions at its disposal if you obstruct visitation. These include:

  • Finding you in contempt of court, possibly leading to fines or imprisonment.
  • Modifying or decreasing the spousal support you are entitled to.
  • Mandating you to provide a bond as a guarantee of adherence to the visitation order.
  • Imposing a financial penalty on you in the form of the other parent's attorney fees or similar charges.
  • There is a potential risk of losing custody of your child.

It's important to address issues of child support and visitation separately through the appropriate legal channels.

Get the Strong Legal Support You Need to Ensure Child Support in California

The refusal of an ex-spouse to pay child support can have significant consequences for custodial parents and their children. If you find yourself in this challenging situation, it's essential to understand your options for enforcement and seek legal assistance to ensure your child receives the support they need and deserve. 

At Anthoor Law Group, we have the expertise and experience to help you navigate child support matters in California and protect your child's best interests. Don't hesitate to reach out for assistance – securing child support is not just a legal obligation but a vital means of providing for your child's future.

What Happens If I Fail To Pay Child Support?

Failing to pay child support has serious consequences. You may be charged with contempt of court if you consistently fail to make payments. If you are in a situation that makes it difficult to meet child support payments, you may also request modifications.

Can Child Custody Orders Be Modified?

Yes, child custody orders can be modified. If your financial situation changes, or if your job requires you to travel to different places and you cannot fulfill the terms of the custody or visitation order, you may request modifications.

What Is The Most Common Child Custody Arrangement?

Custody could either be physical or legal. When a parent has physical custody over the children, this means that he/she physically lives with them at home. On the other hand, legal custody means that the parent has a right to make decisions regarding the welfare and development of the child. These include decisions regarding education and medical care.

Ideally, joint physical and legal custody is the best arrangement for divorced couples and their children. This arrangement is also known as shared parenting. In this setup, the children will split their time between each parent’s residence. Both parents must also agree on the education and medical needs of each child.

Due to many factors, joint physical and legal custody is not always attainable. In some cases, parents may have joint legal custody, or one parent might be granted (sole) physical custody or legal custody. The other parent will have visitation rights or be granted a weekend schedule with the children. Every situation is different and may have different custody arrangements to meet the needs of each family.

Our Divorce Is Amicable. Do We Still Need A Lawyer?

Yes, you might still need a lawyer. Even though your divorce is amicable and you are generally satisfied with the terms and settlement, a lawyer can help you take a second look and determine if the terms are in your best long-term interest.

How Are Properties Divided During Divorce?

Since California is a community property state, the properties acquired during the marriage are presumed to be owned by the couple equally. Therefore, upon divorce, these properties are split evenly (50-50).

However, this does not apply in all cases. For couples with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the division of assets and liabilities would depend on the agreed terms.

How Long Does Divorce Usually Take?

In California, the law requires that a judge must wait at least six months before finalizing a divorce petition. This is the mandatory waiting period. However, the actual time frame varies from case to case.

Before submitting a divorce petition to the judge, the couple must first agree to the terms and settlement outlined in the divorce. If both parties agree and submit the paperwork to the judge, the divorce process could be finalized in approximately six months. But if the parties cannot agree to certain aspects, especially when it comes to property division, custody, and support, the process could take longer.

Why Is It Important To Determine The Date Of Separation?

Determining the date of separation is important because it significantly affects the division of properties, assets, and liabilities. Properties acquired before the date of separation may still be considered part of the marital community property. But properties acquired after the date of separation are presumed to be separate properties.

In California, the date of separation is the day when the husband or wife expressed the desire to end the marriage and performed acts that are consistent with this desire. These acts may include not sleeping in the same room or moving out of the family home entirely.

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