Permanent Spousal Support Covered by Family Code Section 4300 through 4326

It is important to know that there are major differences between temporary and permanent Spousal Support.  One significant difference is that different sections of the Family Code apply.  Factors to be considered for spousal support are found in Family Code Section 4320 through 4326.  In fact, the Court must make findings on the record pursuant to the 4320 factors before issuing a permanent order.  Often this number will be less than your temporary spousal support, so cutting yourself close at the beginning of a case can hurt you in the end when you are left with even less money and possibly having to incur new costs, such as insurance, that was covered by your spouse while the dissolution was pending.  Make sure you understand this, and the fact that courts in Orange County usually run the numbers through a Dissomaster calculation to determine the amount for temporary spousal support, but are forbidden by law to use that calculation for permanent spousal support.


A client came in after being arrested for domestic violence with criminal charges pending.  Opposing party had filed for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).  Our office filed a DVRO on behalf of our client, as we believed the evidence would show our client was the actual victim.  Three days of hearing and the opposing party, fearing a restraining order was about to be issued against them after all the evidence was considered, took us into the hallway as the judge was about to take the bench and told us they decided to drop their restraining order request.  We reached a stipulation regarding child custody and visitation with equal timeshare (the whole incident was orchestrated in an attempt to gain an advantage in a child custody and visitation issues that had not yet been decided).  Client was extremely happy!  Hire the best attorney in Orange County and make sure you get the results you want!!!

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

Family Code 231 – 235  discuss the issue of the ATROs and punishment to be applied upon violation.  These Temporary Orders are located on the Summons and bind the Petitioner upon filing and the Respondent when they are served.  The parties can stipulate to alter these restraining orders.

Family Code 217 – Your Right to an Evidentiary Hearing

The court must receive live testimony, unless the court finds good cause not to and states so on the record.  You must prepare a witness list.  Upon request if the witness list is not served prior to the hearing, the court may grant a continuance.

Specifically, Family Code 217 provides as follows:

(a) At a hearing on any order to show cause or notice of motion brought pursuant to this code, absent a stipulation of the parties or a finding of good cause pursuant to subdivision (b), the court shall receive any live, competent testimony that is relevant and within the scope of the hearing and the court may ask questions of the parties.

(b) In appropriate cases, a court may make a finding of good cause to refuse to receive live testimony and shall state its reasons for the finding on the record or in writing.  The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a statewide rule of court regarding the factors a court shall consider in making a finding of good cause.

(c) A party seeking to present live testimony from witnesses other than the parties shall, prior to the hearing, file and serve a witness list with a brief description of the anticipated testimony.  If the witness list is not served prior to the hearing, the court may, on request, grant a brief continuance and may make appropriate temporary orders pending the continued hearing.

FAMILY CODE 215 – Post Judgment Service for Child Support and Custody and Visitation RFO

This section allows a party to serve a post-judgment motion for custody and visitation or child support by mail, so long as it is verified by an FL-334 form. If you have a spousal support matter that does not include a child support component, you will have to serve personally.
The code states:
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), after entry of a judgment of dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, legal separation of the parties, or paternity, or after a permanent order in any other proceeding in which there was at issue the visitation, custody, or support of a child, no modification of the judgment or order, and no subsequent order in the proceedings, is valid unless any prior notice otherwise required to be given to a party to the proceeding is served, in the same manner as the notice is otherwise permitted by law to be served, upon the party.  For the purposes of this section, service upon the attorney of record is not sufficient.
(b) A postjudgment motion to modify a custody, visitation, or child support order may be served on the other party or parties by first-class mail or airmail, postage prepaid, to the persons to be served.  For any party served by mail, the proof of service must include an address verification.

FAMILY CODE 213 – making a request places the matter “at issue”

California Family Code 213 provides as follows:
(a) In a hearing on an order to show cause, or on a modification thereof, or in a hearing on a motion, other than for contempt, the responding party may seek affirmative relief alternative to that requested by the moving party, on the same issues raised by the moving party, by filing a responsive declaration within the time set by statute or rules of court.
(b) This section applies in any of the following proceedings:
(1) A proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties.
(2) A proceeding relating to a protective order described in Section 6218.
(3) Any other proceeding in which there is at issue the visitation, custody, or support of a child.

In other words, when a request is made that the court make orders, there is always the risk that the other party can request an order that favors them in the response, which the court is authorized to consider.

Transmutation of property – Family Code 852

Family Code Section 852

(a) A transmutation of real or personal property is not valid unless made in writing by an express declaration that is made, joined in, consented to, or accepted by the spouse whose interest in the property is adversely affected.

(b) A transmutation of real property is not effective as to third parties without notice thereof unless recorded.

(c) This section does not apply to a gift between the spouses of clothing, wearing apparel, jewelry, or other tangible articles of a personal nature that is used solely or principally by the spouse to whom the gift is made and that is not substantial in value taking into account the circumstances of the marriage.

Child Custody – Pendente Lite Orders

When parties divorce, often they do not understand that both parties have equal parental rights to the children produced by the marriage until an order has been issued.  So, when filing for a divorce, often attorneys will quickly file a Request for Order (RFO), asking the Court to make at temporary orders regarding custody and visitation (Pendente Lite Orders).  This avoids a situation where each parent is taking the child from school, daycare, etc….

If the situation presents a danger to the children, a parent can file to request an ex parte order be issued by the Court. Because these orders can involve one parent not being present during that initial hearing, another hearing is set, usually within 21 days.  This gives the parent who was not present during the first hearing time to arrange to be present at the next hearing, and possibly retain an attorney in the meantime.

It is very important to attend that initial hearing, regardless of whether you were properly served, as orders can issue from that hearing that could result in you not seeing your child until the next hearing.

Tax Depreciation on Investment Property Cannot Reduce Child Support

Did you know that the depreciation a party claims on their taxes for a real estate investment is supposed to be added back to the gross income for child support calculation purposes?    It is not considered a business expenditure by the Courts, and therefore cannot be used to reduce the amount of income available for support calculations.  Because support calculations are based on the total amount of income available to each party, depreciation of property would provide one party with more income because the deduction would not be accounted for.   This can be useful information for a party whose ex-spouse has substantial real estate investments.

Major Victory For the Client!!

We managed to save a client from financial ruin recently. His ex wife had an old pendente lite support order from 12 years ago that was obtained during a divorce. The couple reconciled for a little more than a year, then decided to finish the divorce. No new orders were issued when the divorce was finalized. That old order provided that my client to pay $5,000 per month!
My client lost his job during the reconciliation, and never paid this amount. Fast forward to this year, now ex tries to register the order here, stating he owes her arrears of $600,000, plus 10% interest every year since 2000 – around $1,000,000!
We were successful in proving that a reconciliation occurred and provided case law to the court that indicated that the order had been vacated because the parties had reconciled. Her motion was denied, and my client is extremely happy!

Law Office of Rhonda Ellifritz