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How California Courts Calculate Temporary Spousal Support During Divorce

Posted on in Spousal Support

Los Gatos, CA temporary alimony lawyerMany married couples choose to have one spouse be the primary income earner while the other spouse attends school, develops a new business venture, manages family and household needs, volunteers in the community, works on a part-time basis, or works in a rewarding but low-paying job. However, in the event of a divorce, this can leave the non-wage-earning or lower-paid spouse in a difficult financial position. Thus, the question of temporary spousal support can be an important factor to consider before filing for divorce. 

Standard Calculation for Temporary Spousal Support in Santa Clara County

When one spouse files for divorce, either spouse may ask the court for a temporary support order. Such decisions need to be made quickly to ensure that one spouse is not left destitute. Therefore, most judges use a standard formula to calculate the amount of monthly temporary support to be paid. 

In Santa Clara County, for example, the standard formula is:  (40% of the net income of the higher-earning spouse minus child support expenses) minus (50% of the net income of the lower-earning spouse). 

For example, suppose spouse #1 receives a net paycheck of $10,000 per month after all deductions for taxes, retirement plan contributions, and insurance. Spouse #1 has been ordered to pay $1,000 for temporary child support, making a net income of $9,000. Spouse #2 brings home $2,000 per month. 

The calculation for spousal support would be $9,000 x 40% minus $2,000 x 50%, or $3,600 minus $1,000, making for $2,600 in temporary spousal support. This leaves spouse #1 with $6,400 per month (that is, $10,000 minus $2,600 for spousal support and $1,000 for child support). Spouse #2 is left with a total of $5,600 per month, consisting of their $2,000 take-home pay, $2,600 in spousal support, and $1,000 for child support. 

As you can see, this calculation results in a relatively fair distribution of the family income for the short term, until a final marital settlement agreement can be negotiated.

However, as with any legal matter, there may be extenuating circumstances. A judge may choose to ignore the standard formula and use a different approach to render a decision regarding temporary spousal support. Or, a couple may decide between themselves that they do not need a court order for temporary spousal support. For example, a lower-earning spouse may have significant non-marital assets that can be used to meet their short-term needs.   

Consult a Los Gatos, CA Divorce and Spousal Support Lawyer

If you are concerned about your ability to meet your daily living expenses while your divorce settlement is being negotiated, speak to an experienced Los Gatos divorce lawyer. Attorney Benita Ventresca has helped hundreds of clients through the difficult process of divorce, and she can help you make sure that the appropriate court orders are issued to ensure financial support for you and any children or other dependents. For a free consultation, call 408-395-8822.


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