Employment of the Supported Spouse That Unduly Impacts The Interests of the Children
While child support is calculated using software, and temporary spousal support is calculated using a formula found in local court rules, the duration and amount of permanent spousal support are determined by weighing 14 factors found in California Family Code 4320. One of those factors is whether the party receiving spousal support can work without unduly damaging the interest of the children in their custody. (See the Judges Benchguide, page
Why Does The Court Award Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent spousal support doesn’t satisfy the same policy goals as temporary spousal support. In setting temporary spousal support, the family court seeks to maintain the parties’ status quo pending divorce and division of community assets. In contrast, permanent spousal support provides continuing financial assistance relative to the parties’ financial circumstances and the marital standard of living.
In light of the goal of permanent support, the court considers whether the supported party can work without unduly damaging the interests of children in their custody. This inquiry is designed to set a level of financial assistance commensurate with the financial condition of both parties, but also accommodate the interests of children in the custody of the supported party.
Not Just A Check
Permanent spousal support is not limited to a monthly financial payment. Alternative forms of support include orders to maintain health insurance for the other party, adding the other party as a beneficiary to life insurance, or paying the other party’s mortgage or car payments. California family law attorneys can advocate for alternative forms of support if circumstances warrant.
Employment of Supported Party Will Unduly Impact Children in Custody
The court must consider whether the supported party can work without damaging the interests of the children in their custody. Sometimes it may be more appropriate for the supported party to defer employment or training to care for dependent children, especially those with special needs. (See CA Judges Benchguide, Child & Spousal Support, page 64)
For example, if the supported party can only earn minimum wage, but child care for their special needs toddler is $2,000 per month, pursuing minimum wage employment may unduly damage the child’s interests. Accordingly, the family court may appropriately look to spousal support to provide financial assistance in place of minimum wage employment.