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Spousal Support and Bankruptcy: What You Should Know

Posted on in Spousal Support

California divorce attorney, California family law attorneyLife is always changing. Sometimes it takes unexpected turns that have profound and lasting consequences. Without the ability to foresee the future, it is impossible to plan every aspect of life completely. Two such instances are divorce and bankruptcy. California is very understanding when it comes to divorce and aims to ensure that both parties separate with equal financial footing, many times requiring the payment of spousal support or alimony. A bankruptcy filing can substantially alter maintenance requirements during divorce litigation or divorce mediation proceedings, many times requiring post-judgement modifications.

What Do These Terms Mean?

If a person is in bankruptcy status, the courts relieve them of paying these debts. During a divorce, bankruptcy may make it tough to make the necessary alimony payments. Many in this situation do attempt to use this status as a tool to avoid the fees. To see where there could be a dilemma, it is best to understand what each means.

  • Spousal support: Also known as alimony, this is a payment awarded to one spouse by the other, during or after the divorce, to help maintain a similar standard of living.
  • Bankruptcy: A legal status in which a person is unable to pay debts owed to creditors.

Is Non-Payment an Option?

Many debtors enter into a new arrangement during bankruptcy. However, this is not applicable to all obligations. Debts are differentiated into dischargeable or non-dischargeable, meaning avoidable or payments still required. Debts that are in most cases unable to write-off are:

  • Tax payments,
  • Secured loans,
  • Child support, and
  • Alimony.

Modifying Required Payments

Although even in bankruptcy cases the payment of alimony is unavoidable once decreed, the possibility exists to alter the amount necessary. No maintenance payment is meant to be life-long, no matter how long the marriage lasted. Often there are clauses imposed, such as the Gavron Warning, in which one spouse should make an attempt at self-sustainability. Alimony cases are assessed another time to determine the appropriate amount for any changed circumstances. Some factors used in the assessment of support payments include:

  • Marketable skills,
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay,
  • The needs of each party,
  • Tax circumstances,
  • The goal of the supported party to be self-sufficient, and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

Litigation or Mediation

If you are facing financial hardship during or after a divorce, alimony may be the solution for you. Support is established through either court proceedings or mediation. Mediation is the option to retain control of the outcome of your situation while also saving time and money. If you are interested in establishing or modifying alimony and would like to discuss your circumstances with a Los Gatos, CA divorce mediation attorney, contact the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca today by calling 408-395-8822 to schedule your risk-free initial consultation. Benita Ventresca has over 35 years of experience in assisting clients just like you have a friendlier, cost efficient and less traumatizing separation experience.



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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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