Changing a spousal support order

Divorces in California sometimes involve an order for one spouse to make spousal support payments to the other party. These orders may be changed or ended if one or both spouses have had a significant change in circumstances. However, a spousal support order can only be changed if a spouse petitions the court to make the change.

A common reason to ask the court to modify or end a spousal support order is if the paying party has had a significant drop in their income. Another reason could be that the recipient spouse has had an increase in their income or has remarried. Even if the incomes of both spouses have remained stable, a spousal support order could be changed if the recipient spouse is making little effort to become self sufficient.

It is important for an individual to act fast if they wish to have a spousal support order modified or ended after a significant change in circumstances. The reason action must be taken quickly is because spousal support orders cannot be adjusted retroactively. If a paying spouse loses their job, the spousal support order can only be changed from the day the paying spouse files papers to modify the order.

Some changes in circumstances can make filing court papers more difficult. An individual who needs to have a spousal support order modified due to a job loss or incarceration might want to seek help from a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help the individual make sure that a spousal support order is changed or ended as quickly as possible.

Source: California Courts, "Changing (or Ending) a Spousal/Partner Support Order", January 07, 2015

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