What You Should Know About Alimony, Especially Now

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 | 10:33 pm

Liz Speech 2Alimony, or spousal support, is an idea that came over from England in times gone by. It was geared towards providing support for spouses without the ability to create income, or with a significantly diminished ability (for whatever reason), at levels high enough to maintain a certain standard of living after divorce.

Originally, and for many years after, there was a requirement within the court system for the party seeking alimony to prove fault in order to be awarded alimony by the court.

That all changed about 50 years ago.

According to award-winning California Family Law Attorney Elizabeth Yang, in the ‘70s California implemented laws making it possible to get a divorce without having to prove fault through The Family Law Act of 1969, and since that time other states have followed suit to one degree or another.

There are only 17 “true” no-fault divorce states (California being one of them), where one has no options that allow casting blame.

However, California and Florida do have one small “exception” to the no-fault philosophy because they allow for someone to file a divorce on grounds of mental incompetence or insanity, but that is something that must be “proved” in court, and would only be used in the most extreme circumstances.

The other 33 states allow for a “no-fault” option when filing for divorce but also offer the other traditional options.

After states passed laws making no-fault divorces at least an option, the question of fault continued to be prevalent in cases involving. As the years wore on alimony awards became more about moral issues instead of legal ones.

While the change to no fault should have led to a more even-handed approach to divorce in general and alimony awards in particular, this has not been the case, Yang said.

Even today, states appear to be struggling with alimony questions. Some are now trying to put caps on awards and restrict judges from having leeway when assigning alimony, while others allow judges total discretion to award spousal support as they see fit.

We also learn from Attorney Yang that the 1990s brought a noticeable shift in alimony awards. The cause for alimony moved away from the concepts of old and focused more on facts presented in each case. However; there has still been a general dislike with the varied outcomes. Today we are seeing another trend in alimony throughout the nation.

In 2012 Massachusetts dropped the concept of “alimony for life” and replaced it with a calculation based on the length of the marriage. So couples married for 10 years can now only have support awarded for 60 percent of the length of the marriage or 6 years.

Other states like Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois have also made significant revisions to their alimony laws which limit, restrict, and award alimony based on strict formulas, taking a great deal of discretion out of the hands of the court.

“They designed this to bring uniformity to family law in those states, and we will have to wait to see if these changes will stand the test of time,” Yang said.

In the State of California Attorney Yang said she hasn’t detected “a significant swing regarding the length of alimony awards.”

However, she has noticed a creep upward in the “amounts” of support awarded throughout the state. This is because California judges have total discretionary power to award the amount of support, but must stick to a formula based on the length of the marriage when calculating the length of support.

Yang also says special circumstances, such as spousal abuse, can affect the amounts awarded, but will not affect the length of support.

So, for the time being, alimony in the State of California seems to be stable, with no significant swing of the pendulum at this stage. But, as always, the circumstances of each case and the ability of your attorney to represent your case will affect the outcome.

If you have further questions or would like to discuss your situation, Elizabeth Yang is available by telephone at (877) 492-6452.

Elizabeth Yang is located at 199 W. Garvey Ave. Suite 201 Monterey Park, 355 S Grand Ave., Suite 2450, Los Angeles, and 2102 Business Center Dr., Suite 130, Irvine. For more information call (877) 492-6452 or visit http://yanglawoffices.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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