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In California, commitment ceremony does not halt alimony from ex

When a couple divorces in California, a court may choose to order one spouse to pay the other support money each month for a specified amount of time. This is typically referred to as spousal support or alimony. Judges consider a variety of factors when determining how much spousal support should be ordered.

A judge will either order spousal support for a specific duration of time and/or until the person receiving the support remarries. A recent California case examined whether the person receiving alimony needs to be legally remarried or simply in a committed relationship for the spousal maintenance to be terminated.

The case involved a stock trader who had been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in monthly spousal support, as well as almost $15,000 in child support, after separating from his spouse in 2006.

The couple was officially divorced by 2008, but there were still some lingering and contested divorce issues even after the divorce was final.

The ex-wife, however, began planning another marriage and set the date for May 2009. But, as the wedding drew nearer the divorce issues still were not taken care of, so she decided to have a commitment ceremony rather than a wedding to her fiancé.

After the commitment ceremony-at which she wore a white dress, the guests believed they were witnesses to a wedding, and the couple signed a ketubah, a Jewish prenuptial agreement-her ex-husband requested that the Los Angeles County Superior Court terminate the spousal support order.

Last week, the Second District California Court of Appeals ruled not to terminate the spousal support, as the ex-wife was not legally remarried. In California, the court said, spousal support may only be terminated on the grounds of remarriage if that marriage meets statutory requirements.

Often, couples in Torrance are able to come to spousal and child support agreements outside of the courtroom with the assistance of skilled family law attorneys. By doing so, it may be more possible for each party to have some control over support issues. However, in some contested cases, litigation is the only way to receive a final answer on a spousal support question.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Commitment Ceremony Won't Stop Ex's Checks," Jeff D. Gorman, Aug. 27, 2012

  • Our law firm handles spousal and child support issues. To learn more about our Torrance practice, please visit our Child & Spousal Support page.

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