According to the Associated Press, in a surprise move this week, Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the courts to deny spousal support to his wife of 25 years.
Although details of the property distribution and details of how their assets would be split were not outlined in Shriver’s divorce petition, Schwarzenegger has made clear that he does not want to continue to pay Shriver monthly spousal benefits.
Shriver’s divorce petition came just weeks after Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child with the couple’s long-term household staff member. Shriver’s attorney, Laura Wasser, has also requested that fees for the attorney and the divorce be paid by Schwarzenegger, but Schwarzenegger has contested this request and asks that all legal fees be paid jointly.
Why would Schwarzenegger request a denial of spousal support? Although it is unusual, experts close to the case suggest that the marital assets, which will be split, may provide enough money to allow Shriver to maintain her current lifestyle.
Lynn Soodik, a Santa Monica divorce specialist, suggests, “His position is probably that she’s going to have enough money that she won’t need the support,” she said. “Either that, or he’s being really aggressive.”
With the details of the divorce hidden from public scrutiny, it is unlikely the public will ever know the full details of the divorce agreement. The couple’s California divorce will most likely be decided by a private mediator or through a divorce settlement and is unlikely to go to a California divorce court.
Many argue that Shriver, who is a well-known and accomplished professional in her own right, should not expect spousal support. Spousal support, many argue, should be reserved for those individuals who are unable to earn their own living, and Shriver, who gave up a lucrative job at NBC when her husband became governor of California, does not fit this criteria.
Surprisingly, the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement and this could mean that their accrued value during the marriage, which is estimated to be approximately $400 million, could be divided equally between the couple.
The couple has agreed to joint custody of their two children, Patrick, 17, and Christopher, 13.
Spousal Support in California
So will the California court agree to Schwarzenegger’s request? California divorce courts have wide discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support or whether spousal support should be awarded. Prior to awarding spousal support, divorce courts in California will review a variety of factors in the divorce. These factors include:
• The earning capacity of each spousal and the ability of each spouse to maintain their standard of living.
• The marketable skills of each party and the length of time for each spouse to attain the proper training and education to find employment.
• The extent the earning capacity of each spouse was impaired by extended periods of unemployment due to domestic responsibilities.
• The extent that the supported party contributed to the education, career or license of the paying party.
• The ability of the paying spouse to meet their other financial obligations and maintain their lifestyle while paying spousal support.
• The duration of the marriage.
• The age and health of both spouses.
• Documented evidence of domestic violence.
• The assets of the spouses.
• The needs of each party.
• Any other factors which the court determines are just and equitable
If you are considering filing for divorce in California, or any other state, consult with a divorce lawyer to make sure you understand how the courts will determine spousal support in your divorce.
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