[Source: California Child and Spousal Support: Establishing, Modifying and Enforcing]

Christopher C. Melcher, top family law attorney, authored the Chapter on Determining Spousal Support and the Chapter on Grounds and Procedure to Modify or Terminate Spousal Support.

Get the best results for your client in a family law support case with step-by-step guidance, time-saving tips, and sample forms in this affordable, in-depth guide.

  • Show why “guideline” child support is inadequate or excessive in a particular case
  • Confidently cite Fam C §4320 spousal support factors to your client’s advantage
  • Successfully build a case for imputing income to a party
  • Modify support in light of employment or other changes
  • Find the remedy you need to enforce or set aside a support order
  • Avoid procedural pitfalls and jurisdictional traps in both California and interstate cases
  • Understand remedies available through the Department of Child Support Services

Ch.7 DETERMINING SPOUSAL SUPPORT AMOUNT

By Christopher C. Melcher

  • I.  DETERMINING TEMPORARY (PENDENTE LITE) SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    • A.  Authority for Temporary Support  7.1
    • B.  Purpose and Amount of Temporary Support  7.2
    • C.  Use of Support Guidelines  7.3
    • D.  Modification or Termination of Temporary Award
      • 1.  Modification  7.4
      • 2.  Retroactive Modification  7.4A
      • 3.  Estoppel Regarding Stipulated Reservation of Jurisdiction  7.4B
      • 4.  Termination  7.5
  • II.  DETERMINING PERMANENT (LONG-TERM) SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    • A.  Permanent and Temporary Support Distinguished  7.6
    • B.  Authority to Award Support  7.7
    • C.  Reservation of Jurisdiction
      • 1.  Court’s General Discretion to Reserve Jurisdiction  7.8
      • 2.  Marriages of Long Duration  7.9
      • 3.  Short Marriages  7.10
    • D.  Mandatory Considerations in Setting Permanent Support
      • 1.  Limitations on Court’s Discretion in Ordering Permanent Support  7.11
      • 2.  Importance of Marital Standard of Living  7.12
      • 3.  Family Code §4320 and Related Factors
        • a.  Need for Consideration of All §4320 Factors  7.13
        • b.  Earning Capacity
          • (1)  Relationship to Marital Standard of Living  7.14
          • (2)  When Court May Impute Income in Assessing Earning Capacity; Use of Vocational Examinations  7.15
          • (3)  Effect on Earning Capacity of Supported Party’s Ability to Engage in Employment While Having Child Custody  7.16
        • c.  Goal to Become Self-Supporting; Gavron Warning  7.17
        • d.  Contributions to Attainment of Education or Training  7.18
        • e.  Ability to Pay  7.19
        • f.  Fluctuating Income  7.19A
        • g.  Consideration of Assets Used for Lifestyle  7.19B
        • h.  “New Mate” Income Excluded  7.19C
        • i.  Needs of Each Party; Effect of Child Support and Nonmarital Cohabitation  7.20
        • j.  Assets and Obligations of Each Party
          • (1)  Assets and Obligations as §4320 Factor  7.21
          • (2)  Denial of Support to Party With Sufficient Property or Income or for Imprudent Use of Assets
            • (a)  Denial of Support Out of Supporting Party’s Separate Property  7.22
            • (b)  Outright Denial of Support if Party Has Sufficient Estate and No Children  7.23
            • (c)  Denial or Termination of Support for Imprudent Use of Assets  7.24
        • k.  Duration of Marriage  7.25
        • l.  Age and Health  7.26
        • m.  History of Domestic Violence  7.27
        • n.  Immediate and Specific Tax Consequences  7.28
        • o.  Balance of Hardships  7.29
        • p.  Other Just and Equitable Factors  7.30
        • q.  Recurring Gifts  7.30A
        • r.  Adult Child Expenses  7.30B
    • E.  Security for Spousal Support; Insurance  7.31
    • F.  Undifferentiated Award of Family Support  7.32
    • G.  Support Award Based on Parties’ Agreement  7.33
  • III.  INCOME TAX ASPECTS OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    • A.  Pre-2019 Support Agreements and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act  7.33A
    • B.  Modification of Pre-2019 Support Instruments  7.33B
    • C.  Tax-Deductibility of Spousal Support Under Pre-2019 Instruments  7.34
      • 1.  Payments in Cash  7.35
      • 2.  Receipt of Payments by or on Behalf of Spouse or Former Spouse  7.36
      • 3.  Payments Received Under Divorce Decree or Written Agreement  7.37
      • 4.  Payment Not Designated as Nonincludable and Nondeductible  7.38
      • 5.  Parties Not Part of Same Household if Judgment Entered  7.39
      • 6.  No Payment Liability After Payee’s Death  7.40
      • 7.  Payment Not Fixed as Payable for Child Support; Treatment of Family Support  7.41
      • 8.  No Joint Return  7.42
    • D.  Recapture of Front-Loaded Spousal Support  7.43

Ch. 8 GROUNDS AND PROCEDURE TO MODIFY OR TERMINATE SPOUSAL SUPPORT

By Christopher C. Melcher

  • I.  AUTHORITY TO MODIFY OR TERMINATE SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    • A.  Court’s Broad Authority Over Spousal Support  8.1
    • B.  Termination of Support Jurisdiction by Order or Agreement
      • 1.  Background  8.2
      • 2.  Support Orders for Definite Term  8.3
      • 3.  Support Agreements
        • a.  Clear Agreements Strictly Enforced  8.4
        • b.  Treatment of Ambiguous Agreements  8.5
    • C.  Termination of Support Jurisdiction by Operation of Law
      • 1.  Party’s Death or Remarriage  8.6
      • 2.  Effect of Domestic Violence Conviction  8.7
    • D.  Other Limitations on Jurisdiction
      • 1.  Appeal Pending  8.8
      • 2.  Default Under Existing Order  8.9
  • II.  GROUNDS TO MODIFY OR TERMINATE SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    • A.  Change of Circumstances Rule
      • 1.  Development of Rule and Showing Generally Required  8.10
      • 2.  No Automatic Modification if Rule Satisfied  8.11
      • 3.  Applicability to Temporary Orders  8.12
      • 4.  Limitations Imposed by Agreement  8.13
      • 5.  Dual Burden of Proof for Upward Modification  8.14
    • B.  Factors in Establishing Change of Circumstances
      • 1.  Importance of Evaluating Circumstances Since Prior Order  8.15
      • 2.  Failure of Assumption in Step-Down Order  8.16
      • 3.  Passage of Time Itself Not Change in Circumstances  8.17
      • 4.  Changes in Income  8.18
      • 5.  Retirement of Supporting Party  8.19
      • 6.  Failure to Make Efforts to Become Self-Supporting  8.20
      • 7.  Failure to Manage Finances Prudently  8.21
      • 8.  Assets or Income Sufficient for Own Support  8.22
      • 9.  Supporting Party’s “New Mate” Income  8.23
      • 10.  Cohabitation by Supported Party  8.24
      • 11.  Change in Party’s Health  8.25
      • 12.  Gifts From Third Parties  8.26
      • 13.  Cost of Living Changes  8.27
      • 14.  Changes in Child Support  8.28
      • 15.  Presumption Created by Conviction for Domestic Violence  8.29
      • 16.  Frustrating Visitation With Child  8.30
      • 17.  Breach of Property Obligation in Judgment  8.31
    • C.  Additional Considerations When Modifying or Terminating Support Order
      • 1.  Court’s Focus on Amount or Duration of Support  8.32
      • 2.  Consideration of Recapture Rule  8.33
      • 3.  Possibility of Support Termination  8.34
      • 4.  Temporary Support Modification  8.35
      • 5.  Retroactive Support Modification  8.36
  • III.  SPECIAL PROCEDURAL RULES
    • A.  Use of Request for Order  8.37
    • B.  Jurisdiction and Venue  8.38
    • C.  Service of Process  8.39
    • D.  Military Deployment  8.40
    • E.  Discovery in Aid of Modification  8.41
    • F.  Attorney Fees  8.42
    • G.  Hearing and Order
      • 1.  Need for Ruling Before Court’s Jurisdiction Terminates  8.43
      • 2.  Statement of Decision  8.44
    • H.  Effect of Preexisting Abstract of Support Judgment  8.45
  • IV.  FORMS
    • A.  Form: Sample Declaration in Support of Request to Modify or Terminate Spousal Support  8.46
    • B.  Form: Sample Declaration Opposing Request to Modify or Terminate Spousal Support  8.47

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