Permanent Spousal Support Appeal
To understand how a spousal support appeal arises it is important to understand how the court fashions a permanent spousal support award. Prior to 1951, the husband could not receive permanent support in a divorce action, although he could receive permanent support in a separate maintenance action. However when the Family Law Act was created in 1969, Marital fault played no part in support orders. This principle has been carried forward in the Family Code. No fault divorce is now the law and fault no longer plays a role in spousal support. As a general rule, for so long as husband and wife or registered domestic partners are living together, they owe each other a mutual duty of support.
An award of permanent spousal support is governed by the statutory scheme set forth in sections 4300 through 4360. Section 4330 authorizes the trial court to order a party to pay spousal support in an amount, and for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into consideration the circumstances set forth in section 4320. These circumstances include the supporting spouse’s ability to pay; the needs of each spouse based on the marital standard of living; the obligations and assets of each spouse, including separate property; the marketable skills of each spouse; the length of the marriage; the age and health of each spouse; the public policy that the supported spouse become self-sufficient; and any other relevant factors. The trial court has broad discretion in balancing the applicable statutory factors to fashion a permanent support order. Judicial discretion “implies
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an absence of arbitrary determination, capricious disposition or whimsical thinking. It imports the exercise of discriminating judgment within the bounds of reason.” Whether embodied in a separate order or a judgment of dissolution, the trial court calls upon its broad discretion to fashion a support award it deems appropriate.
The spousal support appeal starts when either party is unhappy with the court’s support order or judgment. The first step is to determine whether an appeal is worthwhile (appealability arguably is also a first step, but more on that later.) Trial courts fashion orders all the time that to you, I, or even the Court of Appeal consider mistaken. However, these mistaken decisions do not produce a wave of spousal support appeal reversals. Whether the mistake in your case will merit a reversal demands the mistakes view in light of the abuse of discretion standard. As a San Diego based appellate attorney I can evaluate errors to attack in your spousal support appeal that are not only mistakes, but also reversible as an abuse of the court’s discretion. Another step I alluded to earlier is to determine if you can appeal at all. The Court of Appeal reviews some error only by writ or the adverse decision you wish to appeal in not yet ripe.
The above is a short description of the spousal support appeal process. I handle spousal support appeals from San Diego as well as the greater California area trial courts. I urge you to contact me so that I can evaluate your spousal support appeal and determine its merits.
Viewing the presentations, articles, other content, or contacting me/you through my web site does not establish an attorney client relationship. I will not file a notice of appeal nor calculate the time in which a notice of appeal must be filed by until I have received a signed retainer agreement. Warning, the time from which to file a notice of appeal is statutory. The time in which you have to appeal may pass between when you first contact me and when an attorney client relationship is formed upon when I receive a signed retainer agreement . Until a retainer agreement is signed and received by me, it is YOUR responsibility to insure your appeal is filed within the statutory period. The articles on this website are not legal advice and should not be used in lieu of an attorney. The accuracy of articles and information on this site cannot be relied upon.