In California, permanent spousal support is the product of a multifactored inquiry, not an algebraic formula. In setting the amount and duration of permanent spousal support, the court must weigh 14 factors found in Family Code 4320. One of those factors is the history of domestic violence between the parties.
Family Code 4320(i): History of Domestic Violence
As mentioned in an earlier article, any history of domestic violence will be considered by the court in deciding whether to order permanent spousal support. Domestic violence may be committed between the parties (husband against the wife, or vice versa), or by either party against either party’s child (father hitting a stepchild or their child), including but not limited to the following circumstances:
- The recipient’s emotional distress resulting from domestic violence committed by the supporting party
- Any history of violence against the supporting party by the recipient
Why Does The Court Consider Domestic Violence
Of course, the court must consider the factors identified in Family Code 4320 in setting permanent spousal support, and one of those factors is the history of domestic violence between the parties. Apart from the required inquiry, the policy behind the consideration of any history of domestic violence is to accomplish substantial justice between the parties in awarding spousal support. The domestic violence inquiry aligns in part with Family Code 4320(n)’s consideration of any other factors the court determines are just and equitable. After all, it wouldn’t be just and equitable to award substantial spousal support to a domestic abuser, nor would it accomplish substantial justice between the parties.
Conviction for Domestic Violence
Consideration of any history of domestic violence ties into the 4320(m) factor creating a rebuttable presumption against the award of spousal support to any spouse convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse in the past 5 years.