Calculating Spousal Support: Contributions to Receiving An Education & Career
In determining the duration and amount of permanent spousal support, the family court must weigh the statutory factors found in Family Code 4320. One of those factors is contributions made by the potential recipient to the supporting spouse’s education and training.
The goal of permanent spousal support differs from that of temporary spousal support. First, temporary spousal support is designed to preserve the status quo pending divorce and equalize litigating power between the parties. In contrast, permanent spousal support is intended to provide financial assistance after divorce relative to the parties’ financial circumstances. To give context to those financial circumstances, the court considers the Family Code 4320 factor of contributions to education and training.
Contributions to Supporting Party’s Education and Training
Pursuant to Family Code 4320, in calculating permanent spousal support the family court must consider the recipient’s contributions to the supporting party’s attainment of an education, training, licensure, or career. The court must consider all of the recipient’s efforts to assist the supporting party to acquire an education and achieve greater earning capacity. For example, a recipient may have worked a part-time job during the marriage to pay for the supporting party’s college education. In so doing, the court should give ‘weighty’ consideration to the contributions in determining the appropriateness and extent of a spousal support award.
Note – your family law attorney can emphasize favorable factors in advocating for spousal support. The multifactored inquiry required by Family Code 4320 gives your spousal support attorney many lines of argument in your spousal support proceeding.
The interpretation of this provision, however, should be limited to contributions the spouse made to the other spouse’s acquiring education or career. Unfortunately, domestic contributions that facilitate a party continuing a career they already had before marriage don’t count. For example, if you married a medical doctor, your household contributions that facilitated their ability to continue working as a doctor do not qualify as contributions to their attainment of a career for purposes of spousal support.