California Family Code 4320

California Family Code 4320

California Family Code 4320 Attorney

When a couple chooses to end their marriage in California, they are often primarily concerned with child custody determination and property division. However, an important financial element of their divorce that requires careful consideration is spousal support. California Family Code 4320 pertains to spousal support arrangements in divorce, and it is vital to know how this Code section could potentially impact the outcome of your divorce in California.

California Family Code 4320

Understanding Spousal Support in Divorce Cases

California enforces a community property law that intends to ensure all marital property is evenly divided in divorce. This means that all the divorcing couple’s shared marital property is subject to strict 50/50 division in divorce, regardless of any alleged fault for the divorce. Each spouse will receive half of the total value of their shared marital property. This is to ensure the fairest possible outcome for each spouse.

However, when one spouse earns more money than the other, the lower-earning spouse may not be able to maintain their standard of living on their own after divorce. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money paid from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse to make up this difference.

The payer will be required to make payments in full and on time, and the recipient will be required to abide by their own terms. If major changes occur in their life, it could lead to early termination of their spousal support. For example, most spousal support agreements stipulate that payments cease if the recipient remarries or begins cohabitating with a new partner.

Determining Spousal Support in Your Divorce Case

Every major financial decision that a divorce entails will require each spouse to submit complete and accurate financial disclosure statements. These will include their financial records and show the full extent of their respective separate property as well as their shared marital property. After resolving child custody, child support, and marital property division, the spousal support determination will typically follow the outcomes of these other elements of divorce.

Some couples in California choose to resolve their divorce cases as privately as they can through alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is a common option for this that enables the divorcing spouses to meet with a neutral third party who can help them reach a mutually acceptable set of terms for divorce, but this won’t be an option for every divorcing couple.

A spousal support determination in California typically hinges on the difference in income between the two spouses and the length of time that the marriage lasted. The judge ordering spousal support will also evaluate many other details of the case in their effort to determine the fairest possible spousal support terms. It is possible for either spouse to later petition to have their spousal support terms changed if they can show reasonable cause to do so.

California Family Code 4320 sets the ground rules for spousal support determination in California and ensures that a judge handling a divorce has the discretionary power to assign terms as they see fit, addressing the specific circumstances the case at hand entails. If you have questions about California Family Code 4320 and how it will apply to your divorce, the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can assist you.


Q: What Is Section 4320 of the Family Code?

A: Section 4320 of the Family Code in California pertains to spousal support agreements. This code dictates what factors must be considered whenever spousal support arises as a point of contention in a family court case. The section of the code outlines all the factors that must be considered in any spousal support agreement. This section also stipulates that the judge handling the case has the right to consider all relevant factors not specifically listed by the Code.

Q: What Are the Factors for Consideration in California Family Code 4320?

A: The factors for consideration in California Family Code 4320 include various financial details for the parties involved in the case, such as each of the party’s income and contributions to one another during the course of their marriage, each party’s respective earning capacity and job prospects, any history of domestic violence, tax burdens on both parties, and other details that the judge determines relevant.

Q: How Does Spousal Support Work?

A: Spousal support in California intends to provide a lower-earning spouse with the financial support they need to maintain their standard of living after divorce. Spousal support is likely to come into play in any divorce case in which one of the spouses earns more than the other. A common formula used to determine spousal support is subtracting half of the lower-earning spouse’s income from about 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income.

Q: How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

A: The length of time that spousal support will last depends on how long the marriage lasted. For marriages that lasted fewer than 10 years, spousal support continues for half the length of the marriage. For marriages that last more than 10 years, spousal support does not have a definitive cutoff date, and the judge handling the divorce will likely determine how long these payments must continue.

Q: Can Spousal Support Be Changed?

A: Yes, spousal support can be changed. It is possible for either of the parties involved in the agreement to submit a petition for modification in light of recent life events. It’s possible for the recipient to claim they require more support or for the paying spouse to petition for a lower support amount or termination of support under certain conditions. The modification process requires a formal hearing.

If you have questions about California Family Code 4320, how it could impact your impending divorce, or how you can modify an existing spousal support order, we can help. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, have extensive experience handling all types of family law cases for clients in California, and we are ready to assist you with your case. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we offer.

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