What Is the Difference Between Temporary and Spousal Support?
There is an important difference between how a court determines temporary support and how it determines long-term support. Support ordered after a trial is properly described as long-term support. It is often referred to incorrectly as permanent support. Long-term support may be awarded by the court after it considers the 14 factors set forth in Family Code Section 4320. The purpose of long-term support is not to maintain the status quo but to provide financial assistance based on the marital standard of living.
So how long should long-term spousal support last? Earning capacity is considered by the court and a vocational exam to assess the supporting party’s marketable skills and opportunities. In marriages of 10 years or longer, the court often maintains jurisdiction to modify support indefinitely.
The amount of temporary support is fairly formulaic. However, the court has discretion — in fact, the court must exercise discretion — in awarding long-term support after a divorce. When the parties agree to a support amount and there is no trial on the issue, there’s no problem. When there is a trial on the issue of long-term support, effective divorce attorneys can argue for more or less support depending on whom they represent.
It’s generally better to resolve family law matters collaboratively. However, if you anticipate a dispute over support or any other matter that will require a trial, ensure that your divorce attorney has the experience and skills to ensure that your interests are properly represented.