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Determining spousal support in California

Orange County couples who are heading for a divorce may be interested in some information about how spousal support payments are calculated and how mediation can be used to reach an appropriate amount. If left to the courts, a number of factors are used in making a support determination.

When a couple gets divorced, a court may order one of the parties to pay spousal support to the other. The reason for this is to allow the lower-earning spouse to maintain a standard of living for a limited amount of time. A court will look at multiple factors to determine the amount of spousal support that the payer owes. These factors include the length of the marriage, the age of the parties and the standard of living and income of both parties. These payments will generally continue until one of the ex-spouses can show a change in circumstances or if the recipient dies or gets remarried.

In many cases, the parties can determine the appropriate amount of spousal support themselves through a support agreement. This amount can be reached as part of the mediation process, in which both parties work with a single neutral mediator to come to a settlement. This agreement is then presented to a court for approval. This gives the parties more control over the amount, duration and frequency of support payments.

Mediation is a less-adversarial divorce process that allows a mediator to assist the two parties in coming up with creative and collaborative solutions to the various divorce legal issues. The mediation can address several important issues, including child custody and support, alimony and property division. This type of process can take less time and cost much less than a litigated divorce.

Source: California Courts, "Spousal/Partner Support", September 04, 2014

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