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Spousal support may soon cap out at 5 years in California

On August 8, the California Secretary of State (SoS) announced that a new family law petition had begun circulating. If the proposal were to generate enough support among voters, lawmakers would be one step closer to limiting the length of time that a spouse can collect alimony here.

In California, individuals who propose bills or amendments to them must first have the state attorney general assign a title and summarize its aims. The proposal is then forwarded to both the SoS and the bill's proponent.

Once this happens, the proponent can begin circulating the petition to collect signatures. Once it receives the required amount of signatures, the bill can be introduced on the ballot.

The SoS is the person who establishes a deadline for getting the signatures. In the case of this latest family law petition, the SoS gave the proponent 180 days to acquire 623,212 registered voters' signatures if they want the proposal to make it on the gubernatorial ballot in 2020.

If the proposed legislation, which is formally known as the "Limits Duration of Spousal Support After Divorce or Legal Separation to No More Than Five Years Initiative Statute," were to be signed off on by enough voters, it would change the way California spouses are ordered to pay alimony.

It would do away with more permanent lifetime awards of alimony. This would make spousal support more rehabilitative than an entitlement. It's unclear whether the passing of such legislation would retroactively apply in cases that have previously been settled in the state.

Alimony has become a hot button issue in recent months ever since the Trump administration announced that changes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code would take effect on the first of this year. The new regulations made it impossible for those ordered to tax deductions for spousal support payments. It also made it where recipient spouses had to pay taxes on the monies they received as income.

Spousal support is often one of the more contentious issues that Riverside husbands and wives have in their divorces. Your family law attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement, especially when you and your ex appear to have reached an impasse that you can't overcome.

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