How to Obtain a Spousal Support Order in California

If you are contemplating divorce and you earn significantly less than your spouse, you may need to ask the court for spousal support.  In California, you can only ask for spousal support if you have an active divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or you can ask for spousal support in cases of domestic violence.  In cases of domestic violence, you can request spousal support when you file a restraining order, but only if you are married or in a registered domestic partnership. Sign up for our California Spousal Support eCourse for insight into California spousal support laws.

California Temporary Spousal Support Order 

In cases where there is no domestic violence, if you want spousal support, you will first have to file for a divorce, legal separation, or an annulment.  You can file a temporary request for spousal support with your initial filing or anytime while your case is pending.  If you want spousal support while the divorce case is pending, you will need to file a Request for Order (Form FL-300) along with an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).  There is a $60 filing fee to file the request for order in addition to the initial filing fee for a divorce petition.  Once the request for spousal support has been filed, the court will give you a hearing date.  You must serve a copy of the request for spousal support on your spouse at least 16 days before the hearing.  At the hearing, you will need to bring proof of your income and documents that show your spouse’s income.  At the hearing, the judge will sign the order for spousal support.  Some judges require that you prepare the order forms- the Finding and Order After Hearing (Form FL-340), and the Spousal Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343).  If you want your spouse’s wages to be garnished, you will also need to submit an Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (FL-435) and file it with the court and your spouse’s employer.

California Permanent Spousal Support Order

Filing a request for order will get you spousal support while your case is pending.  If you want spousal support after the divorce case is final, you and your spouse can agree to spousal support in the settlement agreement.  If spousal support is part of the settlement agreement, you and your spouse will need to decide how much support will be paid and how long the payments will last.  You will also need to decide if the support payments will be paid directly or if the payments will be paid through wage garnishment.  Once you and your spouse reach a settlement agreement, you will both need to sign it and turn it into the judge.  If you are being paid through a wage garnishment, you will need to file paperwork for wage garnishment.  If you cannot come to an agreement, and your case goes to trial, a judge may order one spouse to pay the other spousal support.  You and you spouse can modify the support, if you both agree.  If there is a change in circumstance, the paying spouse can petition the court to modify the spousal support order.

California Spousal Support
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