Assuming that spousal support is being paid during dependency of a family law action by court order – and again, that’s either an order that’s initiated by the court after listening to evidence, or it’s an order that’s based upon a signed agreement of the parties. No spouse can engage in self-help and say, “I don’t like the pace of this proceeding and I don’t like what you’re doing to impede that pace so I’m not going to pay to you, my spouse, spousal support as I’ve been paying.”
If it’s by agreement of the parties, there’s no court order, then sometimes agreements fall by the wayside when emotions and tempers control. You can’t otherwise just decide I’m not going to pay what the court has ordered me to pay. You’d have to return to the court and get the court to issue a new and different order.
Now, that being said, over the last five to ten years, my experience in family law cases in both California and Nevada lead me to conclude that the courts are far more involved now in controlling the pace of cases. The courts will set on their own various dates to review the status of these proceedings, to review when and what circumstances a trial will be set. So I think there’s a lot of accountability of the parties to the courts.
And I think delaying or dragging out these proceedings, whether it be in a mean-spirited fashion or for some tactical purpose isn’t really as much an opportunity today as it may have been at one time in the past.
Leslie Shaw practices family law in both California and Nevada, and has been involved in close to 1,000 family law matters largely involving litigation throughout his 40 year career. He is also a Certified Family Law Attorney, a status granted by the California Board of Legal Specialization.