Terminating Or Waiving Spousal Support

Terminating or waiving spousal support is an issue Orange County spouses, lawyers and judges struggle with every day. The struggle comes from the uncertainty and the evolution of California case law on this topic, especially in cases of long-term marriages (ten or more years). You know the general rule – spousal support continues for one-half the duration of the marriage in short-term marriages. There are of course exceptions. In long-term marriages, California Family Code section 4336 states:

(a) Except on written agreement of the parties to the contrary or a court order terminating spousal support, the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties where the marriage is of long duration.

(b) For the purpose of retaining jurisdiction, there is a presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence that a marriage of 10 years or more, from the date of marriage to the date of separation, is a marriage of long duration. However, the court may consider periods of separation during the marriage in determining whether the marriage is in fact of long duration. Nothing in this subdivision precludes a court from determining that a marriage of less than 10 years is a marriage of long duration.

(c) Nothing in this section limits the court’s discretion to terminate spousal support in later proceedings on a showing of changed circumstances.

What that means is that in long-term marriages, absent death or remarriage of the person receiving support, it is presumed the spousal support is “indefinite.” To the spouse paying support, those are frightening words. To the one who is being paid support, it is financial security. The exceptions stated by section 4336 are a “written agreement” of the parties or the court’s discretion in terminating the support in “later proceedings.”

Written agreements generally come in the form of stipulated judgment or marital settlement agreements. No matter which one is chosen, the key to a spousal support waiver is the specificity and clarity of the language. Vague agreements won’t be upheld. In Court proceedings, termination of support in later proceedings (post judgment) can come if there is cohabitation between the supported ex-spouse and a member of the opposite sex, the supported spouse’s refusal to become self-supporting (refusing to work or intentionally working for less pay) and similar reasons.

No matter what your intend or goal, Farzad Family Law are experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyers who can help you figure out if spousal support should or should not be waived and under what terms and conditions. Traps are everywhere so experience counts. Waiving spousal support, setting it at zero temporarily, waiving the court’s power to order future support, making spousal support unmodifiable are all different  things even if they may sound or seem the same.

Call or email me. I can answer your questions and help you find solutions to your spousal support needs.

Warmest Regards,

B. Robert Farzad
FARZAD FAMILY LAW, APC
Orange County Divorce & Family Law Attorneys
1851 E. 1st Street, Suite 1150
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Telephone: (714) 937-1193
Facsimile: (714) 937-1192

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