Spouses or domestic partners can agree to a spousal or partner support order. By agreeing and signing a written agreement (a stipulation), they do not have to go in front of a judge and leave the decision up to him or her.
Writing up a spousal or partner support agreement
Spouses or domestic partners can agree to a spousal or partner support amount, but it will not become a court order until the judge accepts your agreement and signs it as an order.
The family law facilitator in your court can help you work out a spousal or partner support agreement and write it up.
To write up a spousal or partner support agreement:
- Inform yourself about your rights and responsibilities about spousal or partner support
Before you sign an agreement with your spouse or domestic partner about spousal/partner support (whether you will be paying it, getting it, or agreeing to no support), you should understand how spousal/partner support works and what your rights are. That way, when you write up and sign your agreement, you are fully informed.
- Ask the family law facilitator in your court for help understanding spousal or partner support. He or she may also be able to help you mediate with your spouse or partner and may even write up your agreement for you.
- Also, take a look at Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157). This form can be used to ask the court for spousal or partner support, or to ask for a change in the order, and it can help you see what factors the law considers in determining spousal or partner support.
- Decide on an amount and the duration of spousal/partner support
Once you understand spousal or partner support, you and your spouse or partner must agree on:
- An amount (or no amount, if you agree that no one will pay spousal/partner support to the other);
- The duration of the support payments — how long the payments will last; and
- How the payments will be made — directly between the 2 of you or by wage garnishment (an automatic deduction from the paying person’s paychecks).
- Consider other issues to see if you can agree about those as well
As part of your divorce or legal separation, the court will decide other issues like property and debt division or, if you have children, child support and custody and visitation of the children. Consider working on an agreement about these issues too.
- Write up your agreement
There is no existing court form for a spousal or partner support agreement (also called a “stipulation”). You have to write up your own or include the spousal/partner support order in your overall marital/partnership settlement agreement or stipulated settlement for your divorce, if you have one. You can use the Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (Form FL-343) as an attachment to your agreement. This form includes a lot of details that you should include in your order.Make sure you use the right case number for your agreement, which will be the case number of your divorce or legal separation case.
- Ask the family law facilitator in your court if you need help writing up your agreement. Or, if you wrote it up on your own, have the facilitator review it to make sure you did it correctly.
- Sign your agreement
Each spouse or partner must sign the agreement or stipulation. Make sure you understand it and that you are signing it voluntarily and are not being pressured or forced to agree.
- Turn in your agreement/stipulation to the court for the judge to sign
Find out from the court clerk if you need to make copies ahead of time and turn them in with the original or just turn in the original and make copies after. The procedures for how to do this will be a little different from court to court, so make sure you find out from the clerk what to do and when you should return to pick up your papers.
- If you are agreeing to have the spousal or partner support paid by wage garnishment, also turn in an Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435).
- File your agreement/stipulation after the judge signs it
After the judge has signed the agreement/stipulation, file the original with the court clerk (after making copies if you did not already make them). The clerk will keep the original and stamp your copies “Filed” and return them to you. One copy will be for you; the other will be for your spouse or domestic partner.
- Also file the Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) if you turned in one.
- Send the Earnings Assignment Order to the employer of the obligor (the person ordered to pay support)
If you agreed to have the obligor’s (person paying support) wages garnished, send a copy of the filed Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (Form FL-435) to his or her employer.
from California Courts