Spousal Support, Past, Present and Future

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Spousal support is a controversial subject in the area of family law. Despite the existence of specific laws on the subject, results in spousal support cases are extremely varied and completely unpredictable. This lack of consistency in spousal support cases has resulted in frustration with the system and a perception of unfairness. Society=s understanding of the purposes behind spousal support have changed with time, and continues today. It is unclear what changes may come in the near future. To understand where spousal support may go, it would be helpful to start by understanding its past, and by following its development and evolution through to the present.

Almost all of the states, including California, have now adopted the policy that the purpose of spousal support is to help a spouse to provide for his or her own reasonable needs while providing an opportunity to retrain and/or reeducate himself or herself, if he or she is unable to support himself or herself sufficiently through appropriate employment following the breakdown of the marital relationship. The exact standards for awarding spousal support vary from state to state. California law determines the issue of whether to award permanent spousal support as well as the issue of how much to award based upon the consideration of fourteen statutory factors.

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