To answer this question let’s look at a case study. In the Marriage of Schleich, Mr. Schleich earned $200,000 throughout their 10 year marriage working for a semiconductor manufacturer, He also ran two side businesses that sold parts to his employer. He also owned two ranches, 15 horses, nine vehicles, six motorcycles, and an airplane. At the time of the dissolution, Mr. Schleich argued that he no longer was employed and his assets decreased to $60,000. He argued that he could not pay spousal support. The trial court disagreed and the Court of Appeal affirmed.
The trial court decided and made findings that Mr. Schleich did not invest his assets in good faith and was attempting to avoid additional spousal support. The trial court also had concerns about the accuracy of Mr. Schleich’s financial disclosures. So, the court imputed income to Mr. Schleich from his assets and his ability to earn income. The Court of Appeal agreed and said that because of Mr. Schleich’s work history, standard of living and earning ability he had the ability to pay spousal support. Since Mr. Schleich tried to avoid spousal support and was essentially caught red-handed the Court also said that even if Mr. Schleich had to sell properties and be without a home or assets, more weight can be given to Mr. Schleich’s professional skills and entrepreneurial ability, cash dealings, and shifty handling of assets.
The lesson? If you want to avoid paying spousal support, you have to do it in a way that’s legal. You cannot dissipate or hide assets. You cannot make your work history disappear. There are ways to limit your liability for spousal support, but not by following Mr. Schleich’s example. Speak to an experienced Orange County spousal support attorney when you are dealing with a spouse who’s trying to “litigate this case until there is nothing left to be divided” like Mr. Schleich tried to do. If you are facing spousal support issues, speak to an experienced Orange County spousal attorney to limit what you pay.
(Cases such as these provide the law that trial courts must follow, so it pays to pay attention.)