An unpublished opinion out of Los Angeles County gives us a nice overview of how permanent spousal support in a short term marriage is really left to the discretion of the judge at the final trial.
Claudia and Roberto lived together for ten years in Mexico. They moved to Nevada and got married. After four years of marriage they got divorced. After their trial the judge awarded Claudia $600 per month as spousal support payable 1/2 on the 1st and 15th days of each month, commencing 11-1-10 for a period of 12 months. On December 1, 2011 spousal support was to terminate.
Claudia was not happy. She filed an appeal. The appellate court affirmed the trial judge.
Spousal support is governed by statute. [Citation.] In ordering spousal support, the court must consider and weigh all of the circumstances enumerated in [Family Code section 4320], to the extent they are relevant to the case before it. [Citations.] The first of the enumerated circumstances, the marital standard of living, is relevant as a reference point against which the other statutory factors are to be weighed. [Citations.] The other statutory factors include: contributions to the supporting spouse’s education, training, or career; the supporting spouse’s ability to pay; the needs of each party, based on the marital standard of living; the obligations and assets of each party; the duration of the marriage; the opportunity for employment without undue interference with the children’s interests; the age and health of the parties; tax consequences; the balance of hardships to the parties; the goal that the supported party be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time; and any other factors deemed just and equitable by the court. [Citation.] [Citation.] (In re Marriage of Ackerman (2006) 146 Cal.App.4th 191, 207 (Ackerman).)
Claudia gets no credit for the cohabitation in Mexico. Only the duration of the valid marriage is relevant, and the appellate court show great deference to the trial judge in amount and duration of spousal support in the relatively short marriage.
Click here to read the Vazquez opinion.
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