Can You Modify Your Spousal Support Payment?

Whether you are the person writing the spousal support check or the one receiving it after a divorce, you know that a monthly spousal support payment can have a huge impact on your finances. You may be struggling to make the payment or struggling to make ends meet on the amount that you receive. Which raises the question: can you modify your spousal support payment, either up or down?

The short answer is that, yes, California law does allow for modification of spousal support payments, but you will need to go family law court to force this modification and the court will want to see a valid change in circumstance before giving an order for modification.

Change of Circumstances in California

Proving to the court that there is a valid change in circumstances is a critical aspect of obtaining a modification of your spousal support order. Oftentimes, this is based on some financial hardship demonstrated by the person seeking the order. It is important to understand, however, that a change in circumstances can be based on the change in circumstances of your former spouse. For example, if you are paying spousal support but your ex-spouse just got a job paying twice as much as he used to make, this could be a valid change of circumstances for a modification downwards. Likewise, if your ex-spouse is paying you and she gets a promotion with higher pay, this could also be a valid change of circumstances justifying a modification upwards.

Common changes in circumstances justifying a modification include:

  • Promotion or demotion at work
  • Losing or gaining a job
  • Increased or decreased needs, e.g. medical bills
  • Disability, injury, or incarceration (or the removal of any of those)

Obtaining a Modification of Spousal Support

You must go to court to make your modification official, even if your ex-spouse voluntarily agrees to the change. Even if that is the case, you will have no way to enforce the change if he or she changes his or her mind. If you do agree on the modification, you can create a written agreement together which the family court judge in your divorce will then have to approve.

If your spouse will not agree to the modification, then you will need to go through the process of filing a request for an order modifying your spousal support order. This will involve filling out income and expense declarations as you did in your divorce, serving them on the other party, filing them with the court, and then attending a hearing before the judge in which you and your ex-spouse can present arguments to the court in favor of your respective positions. The judge will then approve or deny the request. As with all aspects of divorce, having an experienced California family law attorney who understands what judges are looking for in such requests (or in defeating such requests) can be hugely beneficial in working towards the outcome you seek.

Get Help From California Family Law Attorneys in Your Spousal Support Matter

The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, with offices in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, have many years of experience representing men and women in seeking and responding to spousal support requests, and are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcomes for their clients. For help with spousal support or any other family law matter, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.