A temporary spousal support award is not guaranteed; it is determined by the facts of each case. In some states, including California, a guideline formula can be used to assess interim spousal support. This is comparable to the method used by courts to assess child support. The guidelines start with the income of the supporting spouse and add or subtract percentages depending on which party has more financial need. There are two types of needs: immediate and long-term. Immediate needs include food, shelter, health care, and transportation. Long-term needs include education or training, retirement planning, acquiring business assets, and other goals. A court may order any amount of support that it determines is appropriate, considering the circumstances of the parties.
Courts usually use three factors to determine how much money should be awarded as temporary spousal support: the needs of one spouse versus the other, the ability of the supporting spouse to pay, and any past abuse by the supporting spouse.
Needs can be shown by evidence such as testimony from witnesses, tax returns, and statements from financial institutions. The supported spouse's needs should be assessed first because they must be taken into account when determining what amount of support should be awarded. The supporting spouse's needs should be considered next because they too must be met while maintaining a reasonable standard of living for the supported spouse. Any excess funds remaining after meeting both spouses' needs should be paid to the supporting spouse.
Spousal support is defined as financial assistance for a spouse or common-law partner as specified in a court order or written agreement. The payments are made only to help the recipient. They are not considered income to the person receiving them.
The term "spouse" includes former spouses, and if there are children involved, they may also be required to receive support from one or both parents. Spousal support is ordered by a judge and is based on what's called the "needs" of the dependent party and the "ability" of the supporting party to provide for those needs.
Spousal support amounts can be fixed or flexible. With fixed spousal support, the amount is set once by the court and cannot be changed unless the supported spouse dies, files for bankruptcy, or otherwise moves away from the court that issued the original order.
With flexible spousal support, the amount can change depending on what role the supported party is playing in the supporting party's life. For example, if the supported party has a new job that pays well, then the supported party would have the ability to earn more money and therefore reduce or eliminate his or her need for support. If the supported party loses his or her job, then he or she would again need support from the supporting party.
Temporary alimony, often known as spousal support, is a support order issued during a divorce, legal separation, or even an annulment case when one party files such a request with the court. After a motion document called a "Request for Order" is filed with the family court, a hearing is scheduled. At this hearing, the parties will be allowed to present evidence on whether the requested relief should be granted. If family law courts find that there is a need for temporary support, they will issue an order detailing how much money will be paid for a specific period of time. The order may be in addition to any other form of support ordered by the court.
The purpose of granting temporary support is to ensure that both parties receive equal treatment while the divorce proceedings are pending. For example, if it is determined that one spouse needs additional income to make up for lost wages or reduce debt service payments, then the other spouse should not be forced to continue working without compensation. Temporary support also allows the parties to see what kind of living situation they can work out among themselves before making a commitment to a permanent arrangement. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, then a family law judge may order a longer term of support to help them get through the difficult process of separating.
It is important to seek advice from an attorney before filing a Request for Order so that you do not miss out on any relevant information that might affect the outcome of the case.