A Carlsbad divorcee who was previously ordered to pay spousal support to her ex-husband has just received good news. She will not be required to pay the additional $25,000 of legal fees that her abusive ex-husband has incurred.
The woman's husband is currently in prison for sexually assaulting her. A previous trial court judge ordered the woman to pay spousal support in 2010 in spite of the husband's conviction on the sexual abuse charge. The woman entered into a settlement agreement in which she agreed to pay $47,000 in legal fees for the divorce attorney that represented her former spouse. However, the current dispute arose after her husband's divorce attorney requested the court to have her pay an additional $25,000 for continuing to work on the case. The current judge rejected this request due to a new law that was motivated by her divorce.
The new law prohibits a judge from ordering spousal support against a victim of spousal abuse to pay for the abuser. The new law is not scheduled to go into effect until 2013 but the judge felt that public policy was best served to apply the new law when making the decision.
The new law has the potential to make significant changes. Women who are the larger earners may have otherwise felt trapped in an abusive situation if they anticipated paying alimony to an abusive partner after the divorce. Factors that affect the award of alimony include each partner's income, living expenses, standard of living, health of each partner and the education and earning potential of each partner.
Source: North County Times, "Assaulted spouse escapes bill for ex's legal fees," Teri Figueroa, Nov. 12, 2012