Spousal Support

Spousal support or “alimony” paid or received after a divorce is often a heavily negotiated matter. At Moradi Saslaw LLP, our divorce attorneys in San Francisco and San Mateo have an impressive record of courtroom victories and negotiated settlements in matters of spousal support. We will help you determine the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support. We develop fair proposals that protect our clients’ futures.

Considerations in Spousal Support

There are two stages of spousal support, temporary spousal support and post-divorce spousal support.

  • Temporary spousal support: Support paid after separation but before the divorce is finalized. In general, temporary spousal support is based on a state or county formula that takes into account the parties’ incomes (or in some cases, earning capacities), tax status and tax deductions.
  • Post-divorce spousal support: Support paid after the divorce is final for either (a) a specific length of time, or (b) in some cases, permanently. The court has wide discretion to determine the appropriate amount and must consider the following must consider the following factors:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The needs of each party
  • Financial resources and liabilities of each party, including separate property
  • Each party’s source(s) of income
  • The impact of the custodial parent’s employment on the needs of the minor children
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s ability to be self supporting
  • Tax consequences to each party
  • The contribution of each party to domestic duties
  • The contribution of each party to the education and training of the other party
  • Domestic violence

Spousal support is generally taxable to the recipient and deductible to the paying spouse.

When cost-effective and appropriate, our attorneys will work with outside specialists to advocate for the most fair and just spousal support award for you. We may use forensic accountants to determine the income available for support. When dealing with a spouse who is not employed or not earning at his/her capacity, we work with vocational specialists to determine the earning capacity of that spouse. Given the numerous factors affecting the amount of spousal support payable from one party to the other, it is important to receive thorough and sound legal advice.

Tax Issues for Same-Sex Couples/Domestic Partners

Same-sex couples who are registered domestic partners are entitled to support after domestic partnership dissolution has been filed. However, because federal tax law does not recognize or account for domestic partnerships, if the court orders one party to pay support to the other, the payor cannot deduct that expense and the payee has to pay taxes on it. This is a critical distinction between dissolution of domestic partnerships and marriages, because California affords rights to same-sex couples that are not provided by the federal government.

Modifications to Spousal Support

To change court-ordered spousal support, one of the parties must request a formal modification of the original support order. The court may agree to modify support if there is a change in circumstances of either party that affect the support owed, including:

  • A change in income, assets, or debts, for either party
  • Hardships suffered by either party
  • Retirement of either party
  • Changes in tax consequences