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Los Gatos, CA family law attorney for prenuptial agreements

Every year, thousands of Americans choose to pursue a divorce. The decision to separate can be difficult, and the process of resolving disputes through litigation or mediation can be very stressful. However, if a couple makes the decision to sign a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married, the anxiety and pressure of a divorce can be significantly lessened. There are multiple benefits of a prenuptial agreement.  If you are getting married, you should consult with a skilled family law attorney to determine whether a prenuptial agreement is the right option for you.

How a Prenuptial Agreement  Can Help

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between you and your prospective spouse made prior to marriage that will define how certain issues will be resolved if the marriage ends, including through divorce or legal separation. Most notably, a prenuptial agreement may outline the division of property and make decisions about spousal support if you ultimately decide to divorce. Here are just a few ways that a prenuptial agreement could benefit you in the long run:

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Los Gatos, CA family law attorney for spousal supportFollowing divorce, one spouse may be entitled to receive financial support from their former partner that will help them maintain their standard of living. When a spousal support agreement is established either during mediation or a court hearing, the spouse receiving payments should be able to rest assured that they will receive this court-ordered support. Spousal support payments can be critically important in ensuring that a person is able to live a financially healthy and independent life following divorce. However, there are some cases in which a paying spouse does not meet their obligations to make these payments on time or in full. It is paramount that you speak with a qualified family law attorney if you are not receiving the agreed-upon payments from your former spouse. 

Securing Your Spousal Support Payments 

Under California law, an automatic wage assignment is created when a spousal support order is established. This will ensure that the amount of support is deducted from the paying spouse’s income (known as wage garnishment). However, divorcing spouses may choose to have the automatic wage assignment stayed, and they may make other arrangements for paying spousal support. 

If a wage assignment has been stayed in your case, there are a number of reasons why your former spouse may fail to make spousal support payments. However, even if he or she has experienced financial difficulties due to loss of employment or a medical condition that has affected his or her ability to work, you still have the right to look into options for enforcing the payment of support. Typically, the first step you and your attorney should take is identifying why the payments are not being made. If your ex-spouse is in fact unable to work, you may be able to work together with him or her to reach an agreement that temporarily lowers the amount of payments or suspends the support for a certain period of time. In these cases, you should be sure that your ex-spouse is aware of your willingness to take the matter to court if the full amount of support payments is not resumed at the conclusion of the suspension. 

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Los Gatos divorce attorney for spousal support and alimonyWhen a couple makes the decision to pursue a divorce, both parties will face drastic changes in their life. For many people, the end of their marriage may threaten their financial security. If one spouse has conventionally brought in more income than the other, the other spouse may have difficulty maintaining their accustomed standard of living following the separation. Because of this, many divorcing spouses who earn less than their former partner will elect to pursue some level of spousal support. In cases involving spousal support, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you make sure you will be able to live a financially sustainable and healthy lifestyle. 

How Is Permanent Spousal Support Established? 

Commonly referred to as alimony, spousal support is is paid by one former spouse to the other. It is intended to ensure that both spouses will be able to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed while married, and it can also help the lower-earning spouse meet their needs while they work to become financially independent. In the state of California, spousal support is established through in-depth consideration of a number of factors, including the standard of living established during the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the supported party’s ability to secure employment. Spouses may be able to agree on an amount of alimony that will be paid, or a judge may order a certain amount of spousal support to be paid for a specific period of time.

How a Lawyer Can Assist With Spousal Support

During the divorce process, an attorney may help address spousal support in the following ways:

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Los Gatos spousal support and alimony attorneyAlimony, spousal support, partner support…whatever you call it, it can be a complicated process to determine whether you or your ex-spouse qualify to receive financial support during your divorce case. It is important to discuss your options with an attorney to determine eligibility for alimony, the amount of payments, and the length of time that the support will continue. Whether you are the payor or the payee, you will want to make sure that you are the decisions made will meet your needs and protect your financial security. 

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

Eligibility for spousal support, or partner support in the case of domestic partnership, must be determined in court. A support order can be established through a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, or as part of a domestic violence restraining order. Temporary support may also be granted by a court during litigation, with the final decisions regarding support being finalized in the divorce or legal separation agreement. 

The actual amount of the support payments will vary depending on many factors, such as how long the couple was married or in a domestic partnership, the standard of living, both parties’ incomes and potential incomes based on their education and experience, the children involved and care needed for them, debts, property, and much more. The presence of domestic violence may also be a determining factor. 

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Santa Clara County alimony attorney tax lawsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been a major topic of discussion over the past year, and many people have been affected, whether positively or negatively, by the changes implemented in this law. Those who are in the midst of a divorce case or completed their divorce in the past year will need to understand whether they must file their taxes differently than in the past. In addition, alimony tax laws have been altered drastically, and this has resulted in increased conflict in many cases.

Spousal Support/Alimony Taxes

New laws have changed the way both payors and payees of spousal support claim these payments on their taxes. Those who pay alimony will no longer be able to deduct the spousal support from their taxable income, and those receiving it will no longer have to claim it as taxable income unless the parties otherwise agree. This may not have a large impact on some spouses, but for those in high-asset divorce situations, the money gained or lost could be significant, to say the least.

According to CNBC, the “divorce subsidy” that was previously available was responsible for saving some of California’s top earners as much as 50 percent in taxes. Those savings were enough of an incentive for many people to agree to more spousal support and settle their divorces out of court. Without this incentive, high-asset divorces may be more complicated and drawn out, and the payors of spousal support will be more likely to try to work out deals that will benefit themselves rather than their soon-to-be-exes.

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