Why Is Temporary Spousal Support Ordered During a Divorce?

It was recently announced that Kelly Clarkson has been ordered to pay her former spouse, Brandon Blackstock, $150,000 a month in temporary spousal support during their ongoing divorce. The couple filed for divorce in June 2020, and it is reported that they are still working through issues related to their prenuptial agreement. Since the announcement that Clarkson has been ordered to pay temporary spousal support (as well as a one-time $1.25 million payment to cover Blackstock's attorney fees), there have been many questions regarding what temporary spousal support is and why a judge might make such an order.

Below we review how California handles temporary spousal support and answer some frequently asked questions.

What Is Temporary Spousal Support?

In California, there are three main types of spousal support: temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent. Temporary spousal support is generally ordered while the couple is going through their divorce, rehabilitative support is designed to help one spouse get back on their feet and reach financial independence, and permanent spousal support does not have an end date and is not as frequently awarded as temporary or rehabilitative support. California also has a type of support called reimbursement support, which is awarded in situations where one spouse financed the educational or career advancement of the other spouse during the marriage.

The goal of temporary spousal support is to help the lower-earning spouse cover their living expenses while the divorce is in process. Generally, temporary support ends when the divorce is finalized, at which point, any other spousal support orders will go into effect.

How Is Temporary Support Calculated

With rehabilitative or permanent spousal support, the courts look at several factors, including the age and earning capacity of both parties, the length of the marriage, and each spouse's financial needs. However, temporary spousal support may be calculated a little differently. The courts generally use the same support guidelines to calculate the temporary support amount that are used for child support calculations. However, they may also consider other factors as well, such as the requesting spouse's need.

It is important to note that just because you have requested temporary spousal support of a certain amount does not mean that you will be awarded that amount. The amount awarded is up to the judge's discretion. Furthermore, if you and your ex share minor children and a child support order is also in place, the amount awarded in temporary spousal support may be affected.

How to Request Temporary Spousal Support

If you are going through a divorce and would like to request temporary spousal support, you should first speak with your attorney. The process for requesting support can be complicated, and all documents and procedures must be handled accurately. For example, before you can ask for temporary support, you must first have an open divorce case registered with the courts.

Requesting temporary spousal support in California involves:

  • Opening a divorce or legal separation case
  • Filling out several court forms and filing them with the county clerk
  • Serving your former spouse with your papers
  • Filing a proof of service with the courts
  • Attending a court hearing

An experienced lawyer, like ours at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, can help you throughout the process. Reach out to our law firm today to discuss your case.


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