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Can You Modify Spousal Support in California?

Yes, spousal support can be modified in California. Under certain circumstances, both the individual paying and the one receiving support have the right to request a modification of the spousal support order. These circumstances usually revolve around a significant, material change in either party's financial situation.

Several scenarios could make modifying your spousal support order necessary, including but not limited to:

  • Significant changes in either party's income.
  • Cohabitation with a new partner.
  • Changes in one party's employment status.
  • Significant health issues.
  • Retirement.

Dealing with spousal support issues can often feel overwhelming, especially post-divorce. In California, laws surrounding spousal support are designed with some flexibility, acknowledging that circumstances change.

In this blog, we will demystify the process of modifying spousal support in California and clarify when and how changes can be made. Understanding your rights and options is crucial, whether you're paying or receiving support.

What Is the Modification Process?

Modifying spousal support begins with filing a request with the court that issued the original spousal support order. The requesting party must clearly demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since the last order was made. This process includes submitting relevant financial documentation and possibly attending a court hearing.

Here’s a simplified breakdown of the process:

  • Filing a request: The first step is to file a motion or request for an order with the court, outlining the reasons for the modification request.
  • Serving the motion: The next step is to serve the motion to the other party and allow them to respond.
  • Court hearing: Both parties present their cases during a court hearing, after which the judge decides based on the evidence provided.

Working It Out with Your Former Spouse

If you and your former spouse find common ground in modifying spousal support, the process simplifies significantly. You can draft a new agreement that reflects the changes both parties consent to. Once this document is written and signed by both parties, it must be submitted to the judge for approval.

Opting for this route is usually faster and less expensive than undergoing court hearings in disputed matters.

Do You Need an Attorney to Help You?

While you’re not legally required to have an attorney for spousal support modifications, the process can be daunting without one. There are many different forms and documents to fill out and collect, and mistakes in filing can result in your case being dismissed.

Three key areas in which an experienced attorney, like ours at The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates can help include:

  • Advising on whether you have grounds to seek a modification.
  • Gathering and submitting necessary documentation.
  • Representation in court hearings.

Keep reading for answers to more frequently asked questions about spousal support modifications.

How Long Does the Modification Process Take?

It varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. It might take several months from filing the request to the court making a decision. Working out an agreement with your former spouse outside the courtroom may speed up the process.

Can Spousal Support be Modified Retroactively?

In California, modifications generally apply from when the motion was filed, not retroactively. Consequently, those seeking a modification are encouraged to file as soon as needed. However, there can be exceptions, so it’s wise to consult an attorney.

Are There Any Circumstances under which Spousal Support Cannot Be Modified?

Possibly, yes. For example, spousal support that was agreed upon as non-modifiable in a pre- or postnuptial agreement cannot be changed. Understanding your agreement's terms is crucial, so consulting with an attorney is highly recommended.

Do you have more questions about modifying a spousal support order in California? Contact us online. We're ready to help you today.