Calculating permanent spousal support requires weighing the statutory factors found in Family Code 4320. While many of those factors have a significant bearing upon the amount and duration of spousal support, some of the factors have little discussion in case law. These scarcely mentioned factors appear to be more of a catchall category to justify decisions when the principles of equity require a decision that departs from the more explicit factors.
Permanent support has tax consequences for both parties, and the court must consider the immediate and specific tax consequences of spousal support to each party. As of 2019, spousal support is not deductible by the payor, and it’s not counted as taxable income to the recipient. This makes spousal support awards a tax-advantageous source of income to the supported spouse and a greater financial burden to the supporting spouse.
The court must also balance the hardships to each party. (See FC 4320(k))
Other Just and Equitable Factors
The court can also consider any other factor that it believes just and equitable.
The just and equitable prong of the court’s inquiry gives the family court substantial leeway in fixing spousal support consistent with the unique circumstances of the parties while accomplishing substantial justice for the parties. For example, the court may consider it just and equitable to consider monetary gifts received by a supported spouse from her parents in fixing spousal support.