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19 Aug. 2013

What is the Duration of Temporary Spousal Support?

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

In another post, I mentioned some of the problematic aspects of the labels “temporary” and “permanent” with regard to spousal support rulings.

Temporary Spousal Support is support that a spouse may be able to obtain from another higher earning spouse, between the time a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed (a request for divorce) and the time a final judgment is entered in the case. Such arrangements are usually established in a settlement agreement (a stipulated order) or an order of the court. Temporary Spousal Support can also be obtained while an action for legal separation is pending.

Permanent Spousal Support is an award for support of the lower earning spouse, either by stipulated judgment or by final judgment following trial.

The terminology is problematic, because “permanent” spousal support is often not permanent and “temporary” spousal support can in some cases drag on for years.

Generally speaking, "Temporary Spousal Support" starts when a spouse voluntarily starts to pay it pending trial, or is ordered to do so by the court. When there is an order for Temporary Spousal Support, this obligation ends by the issuance of a judgment, a dismissal of the case, or expiration of its own terms as provided in the existing order for support.

In practice, Temporary Spousal Support usually ends when settlement has been reached as to the entire case (a stipulated judgment), or a upon the entry of judgment following a trial.

An order of Temporary Spousal Support may be modified in court at any time, without a showing of a change in circumstances. [Sande v. Sande (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 324, 329]. However, in practice, usually a party will not bring, and a judge will not grant a modification of a prior order for spousal support without a change in circumstances, as this would simply be nothing more than a motion for reconsideration, or in effect an appeal, of the court's prior court order.

A common mistake, one even made by attorneys citing a point of law, is that an order for Temporary Spousal Support may only be made to date back (retroactive) to the date the motion to set spousal support was first filed. In actuality, the court may make an order for spousal support retroactive to the date the petition for dissolution (i.e. divorce) was first filed in court, so long as that petition includes a request for spousal support which attorneys often include at any event as standard practice [In Re Marriage of Dick (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 144, 165]. Thus, whenever making an initial request for spousal support, you should alert your attorney of this authority in order to obtain maximum support.

Categories: Spousal Support
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