After a divorce or legal separation, the court may order one partner to pay spousal support. In this case, that individual must continue paying the amount of support specified until otherwise ordered. However, the amount can change if a court orders a modification or terminates the support altogether. Therefore, when a change in circumstances arises, some people may seek a California spousal support modification order.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, or alimony, is a monetary award given to one spouse or domestic partner by the other, as ordered by the court during the couple’s divorce or separation. In cases of domestic partnerships, spousal support is known as partner support.

Spouses may decide on an agreement for support together. In these cases, the parties would have a judge sign the agreement and enter it as an order, just like any other instance. Furthermore, the court may also order support as part of a petition for a domestic violence restraining order.

Sometimes, spousal support can be temporary and ordered to last only until the case is closed. On the other hand, the court can enter an order for long term support at the resolution of a divorce case.

When to Request California Spousal Support Modification

Whenever the court orders spousal support, each partner must know and understand the exact terms of the order. For example, a spouse may not request a modification on a support order that states it cannot be modified.

In order to apply for a California support modification order, the person applying must demonstrate “changed circumstances”. That is, they must show the court that something significant has changed since the original order. Furthermore, this change must make the order as it is unworkable or inappropriate.

A significant change of circumstances could include:

  • loss of employment;
  • imprisonment of the paying spouse; or
  • evidence that the spouse receiving support is not attempting to become self-sufficient.

Spouses are encouraged to seek modification as soon as circumstances change, as the court cannot recognize the change until a new order is in place.

How to Request California Spousal Support Modification

If you are the paying spouse and believe you have evidence of changed circumstance, you can ask the court for a California spousal support modification order. There are two main avenues people can take to request this change:

1. Make an agreement

If you can work out an agreement with your ex-partner to reduce the amount of support, you can have a judge sign that agreement and enter it as a new order. This may be the most straightforward way to get a modification if both parties are on friendly terms.

2. Petition the court

That being said, if you do not have an agreement, the first step is to fill out all the proper forms found here to petition the court for a change. There are fees required to file the forms, but depending on your situation, you may be able to waive them.

Additionally, a legal professional should review your forms before you file them with the court to ensure they are accurate and complete. You can contact A People’s Choice for quality, inexpensive, non-attorney help in completing the necessary forms to get a California spousal support modification.

Next, before filing the forms, make copies for you and your ex-partner. Then, file the forms with the court clerk and ensure that your former spouse or partner gets served with the papers. You will also have to file proof of service with the court.

After filing the forms, the clerk will give you a court date for a hearing that you must attend. Then, after the judge makes a final determination, he or she will enter a final order either denying your application or modifying the previous support order.

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