Common Spousal Support Questions
If you are considering divorce in Santa Rosa, Ca, or anywhere in Sonoma County, you may well be wondering about the issue of spousal support or alimony. Here are many questions I hear every day: Am I entitled to get spousal support? How much alimony should I ask for? Does the judge always decide how much alimony is awarded in Sonoma County? Can we make our own agreement and avoid the Judge? Can a divorce lawyer in Santa Rosa tell me for certain how much I will get if we end up going to Court? Am I stupid to walk away from spousal support, because my friends and family say I am? How long can I get spousal support or alimony? Is spousal support always half the length of the marriage? I got a quick quote for spousal support from a lawyer over the phone, is that amount what I should be entitled to?
Spousal Support Information, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County
Do these questions sound familiar? They are so common to the issue of spousal support, and they show how much confusion and misinformation is out there. These questions also point to the fact that the business of family law is tending not to provide clear information to the public in general, or its clients in particular – mostly because too many family law attorneys have agendas other than educating their clients in such a way as to provide them with an accurate understanding of the issue in its entirety. Any honest answer about spousal support will always end in: “…….but there is no way to be certain of any outcome if we go to Court on the matter”. So can a family law lawyer ever say for certain what you would get in Court? Absolutely not. Can they make you believe in a certain number that sets your expectations to a place that may not be realistic? Absolutely yes. Do lawyers do that sometimes? In my opinion they do this too many times. The worst examples of this happen everyday. Someone calls a lawyer to get a “quick phone quote” for spousal support from some family law attorney in Sonoma County who shoots them a quick number without running a formal Dissomaster calculation with complete income and expense numbers to put into the consideration. These lawyers are literally throwing out a quick number to an unrepresented caller, based on one spouse’s general quotes of net income for both Parties and length of marriage! This practice in my opinion is beyond unethical, and it ought to be banned. To plant a seed of expectation to some anonymous caller facing divorce, without any formal representation or other key factors weighed into the considerations almost always accomplishes little more that creating a deeper conflict between the divorcing couple from now having unrealistic expectations about support numbers. Of course the lawyers giving these quotes hope the caller will retain them to make their quoted numbers come true. It is an unfortunate reality of today’s family law practices.
For more information on Spousal Support in Sonoma County, and Santa Rosa, CA, visit our website page at: GoDivorceClinic.com/spousalsupport.php
Child Custody Move-Aways in California
Here in Santa Rosa, California. and indeed in family law in general, one of the most hotly debated subjects in divorces is that of child custody “move-aways”, where one parent wants to move far away (usually different states or hundreds of miles away) from the other parent. The key issue addressed by trial Courts in California looked at challenging the necessity of the custodial parents choice to move away. Initially the trial courts upheld challenging the necessity of the custodial parent’s move, and often denied custody if the grounds for the move were not compelling. The Appeals Court however found that the trial court had erred in grounding the Court’s decisions in “necessity”, and subsequently overruled the lower Court’s decision. The Higher Court precedent now establishes that the Court’s ruling in such matters must proceed with the presumption that either Custodial Party has the inherent right to change the residence of the children, and that a mother or father need not bear the burden of establishing justification or necessity for the move . The Court now looks to a different standard to decide the matter.
The Supreme Court of California has now established that when deciding such a case, it must be based on the legal standard of “best interests of the child”. Some of the factors courts will consider include, the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ ability to provide for the child (including love, affection, food, shelter, clothing), whether the child lives in a stable environment and for how long, the permanence of the custodial home, the moral fitness of the parents, the mental and physical health of each parent, the child’s preference if appropriate, and each parent’s willingness and ability to facilitate the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent, among other factors.
It is helpful for divorcing couples in Sonoma County and parents who are contemplating “move aways” to consider this “best interest of the child” standard, and look to the the spirit of the doctrine that will only weigh where it is the child will flourish the most, with all these aforementioned considerations weighed. Its a tough call any way you slice it, and everyone agrees that if parents can if at all possible remain within the same school district or county, it is optimal for the children because they can have abundant and continued contact with both parents. However in today’s trying economic circumstances, many parents are compelled to move away after a divorce for many legitimate reasons.