Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, is designed to protect the spouse in the weaker financial position in the event of divorce. In many marriages, one partner will quit school or work in order to raise children, for example, while the other spouse will act as the breadwinner. If the marriage breaks up, one spouse may be left without financial support unless the other spouse provides it. This is the purpose of alimony.
Any system can be gamed, however, and the alimony system is frequently abused by spouses who demand too much alimony, who do not desire to work, or who have regained the ability to support themselves but expect payments to continue. All too often, courts, unaware of the situation, lend their authority to these unfair arrangements. You can rectify this injustice with proper grounds, however, by filing Form FL-300 seeking termination of alimony payments.
Grounds for Termination of Alimony
The following are some of the most commonly used grounds for a petition seeking termination of alimony obligations:
Expiration: Short-Term Marriages
In California, a “short-term marriage” is generally thought to be a marriage that lasted less than ten years. Under most circumstances, alimony payments should end by the halfway point of the length of the marriage. In other words, if the marriage lasted six years, alimony payments should last no longer than three years. If it hasn’t, you should petition the court for termination of alimony payments.
Expiration: Long-Term Marriages
In California, a “long-term marriage” is a marriage that lasted ten years or more. Although the “halfway point” rule still applies, judges are more flexible than they are in the case of short-term marriages. Consequently, your request for termination of alimony is more likely to be turned down. For example, if you were been married for 30 years, alimony might be terminated after 15 years but the judge still has plenty of discretion to order them to continue beyond that point.
Change in Circumstances
If you are not in a position to argue that your alimony obligation has expired, you might still be able to get it terminated by alleging a change in circumstances, such as:
The receiving ex-spouse is able, but unwilling, to work;
Financial difficulties not of your own making are rendering it impossible for you to continue meeting your alimony obligations;
The ex-spouse is cohabiting with another partner and receiving financial support; or
Your ex-spouse supporting him/herself without difficulty.
You can end alimony payments at any time if you can talk your spouse into signing a properly drafted document agreeing to end alimony payments.
Under California law, in most cases, your alimony obligations automatically end the moment your spouse remarries. The family court is not necessarily aware of the remarriage, however, and it will be your job to inform the court and file Form FL-300.
Take Action Today
Alimony was designed to secure justice, not to turn someone into an indentured servant. If you are currently paying alimony that you would like to see reduced or terminated, call CKB Vienna today or fill out our online intake to schedule a consultation with us. We serve clients in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside County.