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Unable to Afford Spousal Support

This is a great, but very fact-specific question. However the answer is actually quite simple. First, you should know that virtually every single “payor” of spousal support says they can’t afford the payment, and some really can’t. And, you should know that virtually every single “payee” of spousal support complains that the amount they are paid is not enough to live on.
The brutal truth is that the Court probably doesn’t care if you think you can afford to pay spousal support or not. The fact is, in the court’s eyes, your financial responsibilities are paid in the following order of importance;

1. Child support;
2. Spousal support;
3. Everything else, including rent, utilities, car payments and even your house payment.

Simply put, what this means is it is more important to pay spousal support than pay your own utilities, buy food or pay your own rent. As a family law attorney I can’t tell you how many times I have been in court and heard judges say things like, “work harder”, or “it’s time to get a real job” to parties paying spousal support. I once represented a lady whose ex played guitar in a band. His only source of income was playing gigs in bars late at night. Our judge ordered him to pay support to which the gentleman exclaimed there is no way he could afford that payment. He told the judge that he couldn’t go out and look for a normal 9-5 job because he works until two or three am in the bars. Of course, the judge told the gentleman that his ex-wife’s needs were more important than his fledgling music career and maybe it was time to sell his guitar and “get a real job”.

Keep in mind, the amount of spousal support one pays or receives is generally based on the relative incomes of the parties. However, Family Code Section 4320 reads that a judge MUST take into consideration a list of factors before making “permanent” spousal support orders. Again, if you have been reading other information on my website, you already know there is no such thing as “permanent” spousal support, but the code suggests that a judge must consider all of the 4320 factors before making “long-term” spousal support orders. Those 4320 factors include:

These factors can be tricky and complicated. Make sure you get sound professional legal advice before attempting to argue these factors on your own in court. If you have any questions on these factors, spousal support in general, or would like to discuss how these factors may affect the amount of money you may have to pay, or receive for spousal support, feel free to call us for a free consultation.

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