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After a divorce, either spouse may find themselves suddenly without the support of their husband or wife.  Many couples rely on continued spousal support, maintenance, or alimony payments to cover the cost of housing, groceries, utilities, and other necessities while they look for a new job or try to get back on their feet.  In some cases, these payments start after the divorce is finalized, but there are many ways to get alimony or spousal support before the divorce is finished or without ever filing for divorce.  The Santa Barbara alimony lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss how wives in California can ask for alimony before divorce in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and throughout the state. 

Getting Alimony Before a Divorce is Final

When you and your spouse file for divorce, you might begin your separate lives immediately.  California divorces have a 6-month waiting period, during which time the spouses can continue to live together as married couple or separate themselves and start living apart.  When they live separately, one spouse may be unable to afford housing or the cost of an attorney to continue with the divorce case.  To help alleviate those burdens, courts can order alimony pendente lite. 

Alimony pendente lite is alimony paid while litigation (the divorce case) is still pending.  This kind of alimony can be paid up until the time the divorce is finalized, even if the divorce case gets delayed or the waiting period ends up being longer than 6-months.  Alimony pendente lite is not necessary in every case, but courts are often willing to order these payments to wives who need them, especially in situations where the spouse may have cut off the wife’s access to finances or bank accounts. 

Getting Alimony During Legal Separation

Many couples do not file for divorce straight away when they have problems.  Couples may wish to remain married, typically for religious reasons, tax purposes, or so they can continue to share medical insurance.  Whatever the reason, legal separation has many of the same effects of divorce, but it still leaves the parties legally married. 

During legal separation, the parties will typically stop living together, divide their marital assets and finances, split child custody and child support, and begin living like they are single again.  The primary difference between legal separation and divorce is that when you are legally separated you cannot remarry – you need to get a finalized divorce before you can do that. 

Since legal separation divides finances, spouses can claim alimony during periods of legal separation.  This alimony works just like alimony after divorce. 

Alimony During Marriage

In some instances, you may be able to get alimony while you are still married.  This is most common in cases of spousal abuse.  Victims of abuse can go to court and seek a restraining order for protection from abuse.  When a judge grants a restraining order, they may include a clause that will kick the victim’s spouse out of the house.  In many cases, the abuser may react by cutting off the victim’s finances as retribution.  The victim may be able to seek spousal support in these kinds of situations to help them get the protection and freedom they need without having to worry about losing financial security. 

Alimony Guidelines in California

When you file with a court for alimony, the court will analyze your situation and decide whether alimony is necessary in your case.  Courts can award temporary or permanent alimony after a divorce or during legal separation, depending on how long you will need spousal support for.  When alimony is issued because of abuse, it will typically last only as long as the restraining order does.  For alimony pendente lite, the alimony typically ends when the divorce is finalized, and the court will re-assess alimony as part of the divorce case. 

To determine whether the spouse needs alimony, the court looks at each spouse’s financial situation.  Each party’s income is one of the main factors: if both parties have sufficient income to take care of themselves, alimony may be unnecessary.  Similarly, courts look at other assets and debts for each party. 

Courts will also consider the recipient’s ability to get a job to support themselves.  If your spouse supported you throughout the marriage and you did not work, the court may expect you to get a job after getting divorced.  If you have no marketable job skills, training, or education you could use to support yourself, the court may find that justifies alimony. 

Courts also look to other factors that might prevent you from working to support yourself.  Health conditions or old age might make it harder to get a job to support yourself, which could justify support.  Similarly, if you need to stay home to care for young children, you may be unable to work.  Especially if those children have health conditions that require additional care, you may be able to get support to give you time to stay home instead of working. 

Courts calculate support amounts based on the support you need.  This could include the cost of housing, groceries, and other expenses.  Courts also take into consideration the standard of living you shared during your marriage, and they attempt to give you support to allow you to continue that lifestyle. 

Call Our Ventura Spousal Support Lawyers for Free Legal Consultations

If you are considering seeking alimony in your divorce case, contact the Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth.  Our lawyers can help you understand your options to seek alimony, even before the divorce is final.  For help with your case, contact our law offices today at (305) 690-0244 to schedule a free consultation. 

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The Law Offices of Bamieh & Erickson, PLC

692 E Thompson Blvd
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The Law Offices of Bamieh & Erickson, PLC

209 E Anapamu St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 861-2363
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