How Can Spousal Support be Modified in California?

Whether you are seeking to increase the spousal support payments you receive or wish to decrease the payments you were ordered to make, it is possible to ask that the court to modify these payments and to have this request successfully granted under certain circumstances. Remember, the court orders spousal support only as a means to ensure the incomes of both parties are balanced in a way that is consistent with the lifestyle they enjoyed throughout their marriage and there are several life changes that can occur after a divorce which could warrant a reduction or an increase in the amount a former spouse pays or receives.

A Change in Your Circumstances

In order for a request for modification to be granted, there must be a material change in one or both party’s circumstances. For example, if you recently took a pay cut or lost your job and had to take on a new job that pays you substantially less than what you previously earned, these would both be examples of material changes in your circumstances. That said, if you were to reduce your income on purpose in order to have your spousal support payments reduced, the court would deny your request to have the order modified.

Below is a list of some of the factors a court considers to decide if it is appropriate to grant a request for modification:

  • The ability of both parties to maintain the same standard of living they had during marriage.
  • How much the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s earning capabilities.
  • The ability of the paying spouse to make payments while maintaining his or her standard of living.
  • Each party’s assets and debt, including whatever was divided amongst them during the divorce.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • A conviction for spousal abuse or a history of domestic violence.

Additionally, it is important to note that, ultimately, the court believes the supported party should be able to become self-sufficient within a reasonable timeframe. This is generally defined as half the length of a marriage, except in situations where a marriage lasted 10 years or longer.

The Burden of Proof

If you are seeking to reduce or increase your spousal support payments, the burden of proof will rest on the shoulders of the party who files the request. If you are requesting an increase in the payments you receive, you will have to prove to the court that material changes in your life warrant an increase in support. If you are seeking to lower the payments you make, the court might consider the passage of time as one factor, but it is not sufficient on its own. You will also have to prove that there was a significant change in your circumstances.

Ready to Help You Modify Your Spousal Support Payments

If you would like to seek a modification of your spousal support payments, whether you are the recipient or the payee, you will need skilled legal guidance to help you navigate the process. At the Bez Law Firm, P.C., our skilled team of attorneys is dedicated to providing exceptional legal representation to every client who seeks our help.

Get started on your spousal support modification today and contact our family law firm at (916) 512-8944 to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.