After 21 months of marriage, Kaley Cuoco has filed for divorce from husband Ryan Sweeting.
Kaley Cuoco Divorce
Kaley Cuoco, 29, and Ryan Sweeting, 28, have decided to end their marriage, listing their date of separation as Sept. 3, and announcing the split via Cuoco’s rep on Friday Sept. 25, with this:”Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting have mutually decided to end their marriage. They ask for privacy at this time. No further statement will be issued regarding this matter.”
The two have cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split. Additionally, the TV star and tennis player signed a prenuptial agreement one month prior to saying their wedding on Dec. 31, 2013. In that document, the couple agreed to both spousal support and property assets.
Alimony, also known as “spousal support,” is when one spouse pays the other in order to help that spouse maintain the same financial standing as was experienced during the marriage. A court will require the higher earning spouse, in this case Cuoco, who is said to be the highest paid actress on TV, to assist the lower in maintaining that standard of lifestyle that was achieved during the marriage.
Awarding Spousal Support
In California a judge can award temporary (“pendente lite”) support either during the divorce proceedings, or when the divorce is declared final. Typically these payments are made from one spouse to the other in a specified amount for a predetermined period of time. But support can also be paid in a single lump-sum payment. In collaborative process divorce agreements, spouses often come to agreement on the terms and conditions of support payments. As long as this agreement meets legal requirements, a court will uphold an agreement. This is the case even if the agreement provides for a complete waiver of support to the lower-earning spouse.
Calculation of Spousal Support
California law rules that the purpose of awarding temporary spousal support is for preserving the financial status quo, or “standard of living during the marriage” to the greatest extent possible. After a court evaluates and considers the needs of the spouse requesting the support, as well as the ability of the other spouses ability to pay, it can order the temporary spousal support in any amount. Typically, a court will use a common formula for calculating temporary support. One example of this formula is the Santa Clara County formula. This formula comes up with a figure through subtracting 50% of the lower-earner’s net income from 40% of the higher earner’s, and then makes adjustments for tax consequences and child support payments. The California Department of Child Support provides a support calculator for parents of dependent children looking to get a rough estimate of what temporary spousal support payments might look like along with child support payments. A family law attorney will also be able to provide you with a rough idea of what your payments will look like.
Standard of Living
Spousal support’s main purpose is to assist a supported spouse in maintaining a standard of living that was close to that which was attained during the marriage. But the goal is for the spouse receiving the payments to eventually become self-supporting to the greatest extent possible. A court will take the following into account:
- marketable skills of the supported spouse,
- job market for those skills,
- any time or expense the supported spouse will need to acquire education or training for employment or enhanced employability, and
- the extent to which periods of unemployment (due to domestic duties) during the marriage have impaired the supported spouse’s present or future earning capacity.
The court will also consider any other factors, including:
- extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of education, training, professional licensing or career advancement (this can also mean the extent to which the supported spouse provided and maintained home life while the other spouse was advancing his or her career)
- ability of the supporting spouse to pay support. A court will take into account earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living,
- needs of each party based on what the marital standard of living was,
- each spouse’s obligations and assets, including separate property,
- duration of the marriage,
- ability of a spouse who is also a custodial parent to engage in employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children,
- each spouse’s age and health,
- documented history of domestic violence by either spouse*,
- immediate and specific tax consequences to each spouse (often times tax agreements are figured out during the awarding of spousal support and child support agreements),
- balance of the hardships to each spouse, and
- the goal that the supported spouse will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. This follows a general rule of thumb presumed to be one-half the length of a marriage (unless the marriage was longer than 10 years).
*California courts do not ordinarily consider conduct when making spousal support determinations. But often times, a court will not award support to a spouse that has a proven history of violence toward the other spouse.
Duration of Spousal Support
In California, the duration of spousal support agreements are often tied to the length of the marriage. A general rule of thumb is that for a marriage of less than 10 years, a court will not order support payments be made for longer than half the length of the marriage. But if a marriage has lasted 10 years or longer, a court typically will not set a definite termination date for support. Both spouses are able to request modifications to the spousal support agreement indefinitely, unless a termination date has specifically been agreed, or if the court expressly terminates the support at a later hearing.
Awarding Permanent Support
Sometimes support is labeled “permanent” support, but the actual awarding of permanent support lasting for the remainder of a lifetime is increasingly rare, even for marriages that last over 10 years. Family law courts in California tend to require a spouse seeking support to make an effort to become self-supporting. A spouse that makes claims that they are unable to work, or unable to become fully employed, is required to support the claim with evidence. Often times this means having a vocational evaluation. And for long term support orders, the support often gradually reduces over time by a nominal amount. Permanent support is usually only awarded to spouses that are unable to become self-supporting due to age or disability.
Spousal Support Help
Working with a family law attorney can help you understand the process of awarding and receiving spousal support. Many of the laws are specific to the state you will be divorcing in, so it’s important you work with a lawyer that is knowledgeable about your state’s laws.
State laws govern how the marital property will be divided. You will need to check with an attorney to see if you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state.
There are four other steps that need to be considered when diving marital property:
- Identify the assets owned by you and your spouse
- Categorize all assets as marital or non-marital property
- A value will need to be assigned to the assets
- Devise a plan for the division of assets that is in accordance with state laws
No Fault Divorce Laws
Though most states separate the division of marital property from grounds for divorce due to no fault divorce laws, most states do consider any financial misconduct when it comes to dividing marital property. What this means is if you or your spouse has foolishly spent money then you or your spouse will most likely be penalized when it comes to dividing marital property.
Separate Join Financial Obligations
If you feel the division of marital assets might be a contentious point between you are your spouse, you might want to consider separating financial obligations prior to starting the divorce process. Marital property does not only mean furniture and household items, but also joint credit accounts. Each spouse should have access to a complete set of all financial documents. You’ll also want to close all joint credit card accounts. If you’re not able to fully separate the accounts, draft a formal written agreement outlining the activity on the remaining joint accounts. Freeze any investment assets – this will ensure neither spouse misuses funds until everything has been agreed upon. You might also want to consider changing the title on your home to read “tenants in common” until the final agreement regarding marital property has been decided upon.
A Family Law Attorney
But when it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case. For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.
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