Child support and spousal support serve different purposes, implicate different policies, and are governed by different rules.
Under child support law in California, a child has a right to be maintained in a lifestyle that is consistent with what the child is accustomed to while living with his or her parents. This includes maintenance and education. The spousal support statute, however, requires only a consideration of the parties’ standard of living in awarding spousal support.
Child support awards are highly regulated and are relatively fixed orders based on strict statewide guidelines. The state guidelines consider factors such as visitation rights of the parties, the income of each party, health insurance paid by a party, day care expenses, etc. On the other hand, case law requires spousal support awards to be the product of the independent exercise of judicial discretion and requires the weighing of several different factors including any factors that the court deems just and equitable. The relevant factors the court considers include the ability to maintain the marital standard of living in light of certain capacities; contributions to the other spouse’s education, training, etc; the supporting spouse’s ability to pay; needs in light of the marital standard of living; the parties assets and debts; duration of the marriage; the age and health of the parties; any history of domestic violence; tax consequences; and the balance of hardships to each party.
The parties may agree to waive spousal support; however, public policy prohibits the waiver of child support.
The state’s legislative policy on child support is to make children the state’s top priority. The statutory child support duty normally terminates when the child reaches the age of 18. The legislative policy on spousal support is for the spouse’s to be self supporting within a reasonable period of time.
Child support and spousal support can be complex. It is important to seek an experienced family law attorney to assist you in your support matter. At Wallin & Klarich, our Tustin child support attorneys have over 30 years of experience in family law. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome. Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.
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