San Diego Spousal Support Attorney

Spousal/Partner Support

Under California law, spousal support (or “partner support” for registered domestic partners) is sometimes ordered to assist the lower-income-earning spouse in maintaining approximately the same standard of living the couple enjoyed before separation.  This goal is not always attainable since the income enjoyed during marriage must now support two separate households.

Unlike child support, there is no standardized formula to determine an appropriate amount of spousal/partner support.  Instead, the amount is up to the judge’s discretion after consideration of the facts presented in the case.  Determining the amount of support becomes difficult or complicated when:

  • A spouse’s earnings are primarily paid in cash;
  • A spouse is self-employed and that spouse tries to hide his or her true earnings;
  • One spouse is not working at employment equal to his or her ability to earn.
  • A spouse cohabitates with a romantic partner outside the marriage/domestic partnership (though it is often difficult to prove).


Spousal support also is not a fixed amount, even after set the first time.  During the divorce process, “temporary” support may be awarded.  That award may be modified by agreement of the parties, or at a later hearing.  Long-term support may also be appropriate in some cases; however, the length of time spousal support is available varies, primarily on the length of the marriage and on the supported spouse’s ability to earn income after the couple separates and the children become self-sufficient.

Leigh A. Kretzschmar is experienced in using several investigative techniques to provide accurate information about each spouse, their needs, their circumstances and respective income earnings, to determine an appropriate amount of support.

Support ordered while the divorce process is on-going is called “temporary” or “pendent lite” support and is primarily based on the income and expenses of the parties at the time of separation.  At the time of a final a Judgment dissolving the marriage or domestic partnership, the spousal support order is called “permanent.” However, this does not mean that the support will last forever.  Until the court’s authority to award spousal/partner support ends, the court considers certain factors when making an order of “permanent” support and how long such support will last.  Examples of such factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The ability of each spouse/partner to support themselves;
  • The age of the parties, the length of the relationship or partnership;
  • The education level achieved; and
  • The sacrifice of employment opportunity or growth during a marriage to raise children or care for elders.

Once an appropriate amount of support is set forth in a court order, payment is due on a monthly basis.  If spousal support is not paid as directed by the court, there are a variety of enforcement options available to an experienced family law lawyer like Leigh A. Kretzschmar.

Parties without proper legal representation commonly fail to provide all relevant evidence to the judge, often resulting in inappropriate spousal support awards.  An inadequate spousal support award can be devastating since California law limits the circumstances under which the initial order can be modified.  Leigh A. Kretzschmar is experienced in obtaining appropriate spousal support order for her clients and is highly skilled at presenting evidence and making persuasive, successful arguments on behalf of her client’s needs, getting spousal support right the first time.

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