Can I Get Spousal Support While I Go Back to School?
Spousal support is intended to help a lower-earning spouse to maintain a reasonable standard of living similar to the standard enjoyed during the marriage, even when a divorce occurs. The court may determine the amount of spousal support that is appropriate if the couple is unable to come to their own agreement on alimony after a marriage dissolves. A prenuptial agreement may also be determinative in decisions regarding both whether a spouse is entitled to alimony after divorce as well as the amount of alimony to be paid.
When spousal support is awarded in a California divorce, it is usually on a temporary basis aimed at giving the lower-earner time to become self-supporting. This may not always be the case, especially in a marriage of long duration, which is defined as a marriage lasting at least 10 years. For those who are getting divorced and who wish to go back to school, spousal support may be provided while an education is obtained- but it depends upon what a court determines based on the specifics of the case.
If you hope to try to go back to school to improve your credentials and you want to be paid spousal support during this education process, it is imperative you make a solid legal argument related to why support is justified. An Irvine divorce lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide you with assistance in arguing your case for support.
Can You Get Spousal Support While You Go Back to School?
If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement that you will be paid support while you go back to school, the court will make this agreement legal as a part of your divorce settlement. You may wish to try to negotiate on this issue with your spouse during the divorce process, rather than litigating. You can point out to your spouse that your return to school will allow you to make more money so support will not be as necessary over the long-term. Your spouse may be willing to compromise and agree to support you until your education is complete, and you can create a written agreement to that affect.
If you and your spouse have a prenup, that will usually be controlling on the issue of spousal support if alimony was addressed in the original contract. If you waived the right to alimony or agreed to a limit on the amount or duration of alimony payments, this will usually be enforceable as long as the prenup is valid. Your desire to go to school likely will not be enough to convince a court to overturn a valid prenup and award you support; however, there may be some circumstances where the court does invalidate or change provisions related to alimony contained in prenuptial agreements. If you hope to get support while you go to school and your prenup says you aren’t entitled to it, you’ll need to make sure you have a very experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to help you make a compelling argument to the court.
If there’s no prenup and no agreement between you and your spouse, the family court judge presiding over your case will have to decide on whether you can get spousal support while you go back to school. California Family Code Section 4320 sets forth the guidelines which the judge should use to determine if you are entitled to receive alimony as you pursue your education.
Factors Determining if You Can Get Temporary Alimony
Alimony paid to you while you go back to school is usually called rehabilitative alimony and it is usually paid on a temporary basis. Family Code Section 4320 says that when alimony is awarded, the goal is usually to pay it only until the recipient becomes self-supporting, which is supposed to occur within a reasonable period of time.
By statute, a reasonable period of time is usually defined to be half of the length of the marriage. However, the court is not restricted to awarding temporary alimony only for this length of time. If you can show the court you wish to go back to school and you ask for alimony to be paid for the extent of your program, the court may decide the length of your program is a reasonable period of time and that you should be supported until the schooling is complete.
Alimony decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and you should have an experienced Irvine family law attorney helping you to argue for a support payment that is comfortable for you- especially if you want to continue your education and can’t work. Call Brown & Charbonneau, LLP at 866-237-8129 as soon as possible to get the assistance you need fighting for spousal support.