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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7070
Experience:  Experienced Family Law Attorney
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We are based in California I have begun divorce proceedings

Customer Question

We are based in California
I have begun divorce proceedings against my wife. I am a self employed music composer. A movie series I was working on has been cancelled and severely compromised our finances. I was the primary breadwinner.
She is at retirement age and receives around $800 PCM from the govt.
In such a situation, would I be expected to produce additional alimony, even though I have no assets, have agreed to give her the house and pay the mortgage (I cashed in a 60k pension fund which is keeping things afloat for a while). I am 58 years old and the chances are that my earning capacity will not be what it was. We are carrying a lot of credit card debt, which would have been paid off by the pension fund had the work not been compromised.
Appreciate your thoughts on how divorce can be navigated when the money has run out.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 6 months ago.
Spousal support is designed to allow both parties, to the extent possible, to live at the standard of living achieved during the marriage, while taking into account that 2 households are more expensive to maintain than one. The court can't make money magically appear, and while the court does tend to allow a person of retirement age to not work, if the finances simply don't permit that, then they expect that person to work, provided they are physically and emotionally able to (unfortunately, even married couples have to work beyond retirement age due to a lack of adequate finances, particularly in this economy). Before agreeing to any settlement agreement, I would encourage you to consult with an attorney. CA is a community property state, so that the community assets and debts are typically divided equally among the parties. Please keep in mind that the court will look at all issues- so for example, if a pension was cashed in, that depletes that person's retirement, so when that person retires, they too will have financial issues; if that person assumes all the debt, that can create serious problems for them. Often times, divorce forces a couple, either together or as individuals, to declare bankruptcy, so that the unsecured debt can be eliminated, and the secured debt can be liquidated - I would urge you to discuss this possibility with a bankruptcy attorney. But as to the base question, for spousal support the court will consider the following factors: 4320. In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances: (a) The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following: (1) The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment. (2) The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties. (b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party. (c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living. (d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage. (e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party. (f) The duration of the marriage. (g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party. (h) The age and health of the parties. (i) Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party's child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party. (j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party. (k) The balance of the hardships to each party. (l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties. (m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325. (n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable. So as you can see, age and health are only one of many factors; so before signing away everything and agreeing to spousal support, please be sure to consult with an attorney.
Expert:  LegalGems replied 6 months ago.
Pro bono attorneys here: Also, there is a waiver of fees that many qualify for: The code cited above is listed here: