Our Experience Helps Secure The Best Results For Our Clients
Under California law, parents have the legal obligation to support their children and each spouse has the legal obligation to support the other during and after marriage. Some of our clients are women; some are men. Some of our clients have greater earning power than the spouse they are divorcing. Other times, our clients have played more of a supporting role in their families during the time they were married. Consequently, on their own they will have less earning potential, at least at the beginning stages after a divorce.
Child Support: Under California law, the court must make a child support order where the parties have minor children with each other. Child support issues may arise over the course of a divorce or between parents who are not married. The court need not honor agreements between the parents concerning support of the children. The court will not honor the parents’ agreement to terminate child support before the it terminates under California law; nor can a parent voluntarily give up their parental rights to avoid the obligation to support the child. Child support generally terminates at the later of the date the child turns 18, graduates from high school, or attains age 19. It also terminates on marriage, death or emancipation of the child. The amount of child support is set by a statutory formula (guideline) that is based primarily on the differences between the parties’ incomes and the amount of time each parent has with the child. In addition, each parent has the obligation to contribute towards expenses for childcare and uninsured medical care and may be required to contribute towards educational and other expenses as deemed appropriate by the court. The parents can agree to vary the guideline formula, but a parent’s obligation to support his or her child cannot be waived.
Spousal Support: California law provides that spouses have a duty to support each other which continues after separation and divorce and that both parties have an obligation to make efforts to become selfsupporting. There are two types of spousal support, temporary and long term:
- Temporary Spousal Support: is meant to maintain the status quo until trial on support issues and is based primarily on the parties’ respective incomes.
- Long-Term Spousal Support: The amount and duration of long-term support depends on numerous factors set by statute. The statutory factors that influence the amount and duration of long-term spousal support and the case law interpreting those statutes may be complex, but it is important to address spousal support carefully and aggressively. A court may deny long term support to a spouse who has sufficient resources from separate property, earnings, or his or her share of community property for his or her own support.
- Length of the Marriage: If a marriage is considered short term (typically a marriage of less than 10 years), the court may terminate spousal support after a fixed amount of time has expired, typically one-half the length of the marriage. In a long-term marriage of 10 years or more, the court cannot set a termination date in the initial order.
- Flexibility: Unlike child support, spouses have a lot of flexibility in the agreements they can make concerning the amount and duration of spousal support.
- Tax Consequences: For spousal support orders made after December 31, 2018, spousal support has no tax consequences. For spousal support orders made before January 1, 2019, spousal support is generally taxable income to the spouse who receives it and deductible from the income of the spouse who pays it if it is ordered pursuant to a court order and meets other criteria.
- Attorney’s Fees: Under California law, one party can be required to contribute to the attorney’s fees incurred by the other party. There are two circumstances in family law proceedings where this can occur. The first is where the award is necessary to “level the playing field” so that the party with more assets and income does not have an unfair advantage over the party with lesser assets and income. In determining the appropriate fee order the court takes into account the same factors as for long term spousal support. A party can also be ordered to pay the other party’s fees as a sanction for improper conduct, such as bad faith in settlement negotiations.
- Modification Of Support: Support judgments or orders can be modified where there has been a substantial change in circumstances, for example loss of a job, retirement, birth of another child, or an illness or disability that limits a party’s ability to work or requires additional expense for a child. Child support can be modified without a showing of changed circumstances where the support amount was set by agreement in an amount that is less than what guideline child support would have been. Spousal support can be modified or terminated by court order where there has been a substantial change in circumstances. In these cases, we will represent you in seeking or defending against modification of child or spousal support.
- Enforcement Of Support: Support judgments or orders generally call for monthly payments over an extended period and some people cannot or do not keep up with the payments. In this case, we will represent you in seeking to enforce or defending against enforcement of child or spousal support.
Representing Your Best Interests
Determining what is appropriate for child and spousal support matter’s is seldom easy. If it’s possible, we help clients achieve favorable support and fee agreements through negotiations outside court. This saves our clients money because their case is not required to go to trial. It also leaves both parties in the divorce feeling more empowered, knowing they participated in the decision-making process.
It is important to realize that this is your case and you have the ultimate control over whether to settle your case. If we have exhausted every possibility for an informal settlement, we will advocate in a professional and aggressive manner for our clients in court. Our many years of experience in family law will guide our every attempt to obtain child support, spousal support, and attorneys’ fees that work in our clients’ favor.
We can help with calculation, modification, or enforcement of spousal support, child support or attorney’s fees, and we make sure your best interests and those of your children are represented in all family support matters. We also handle family law matters relating to property division, child custody and visitation, and domestic violence.
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Di Maria & Cone
628 Cuesta Drive
Los Altos, CA 94024
Phone: (650) 321-4460
Fax: (650) 321-0632
Di Maria & Cone, located in Los Altos, represents clients throughout California, primarily on the San Francisco Peninsula and in Silicon Valley — in communities such as Atherton, Cupertino, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Woodside.