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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

When can you seek a spousal support modification in California?

When a couple in California divorces, one party may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other party. Also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is meant to put the receiving party on an even financial standing with the paying party, until the receiving party can become financially self-sufficient.

However, life is rarely static. There may come a day when either party experiences a change in financial circumstances. For example, they may be laid off, incur significant medical expenses or get a higher-paying job. When this happens, a party might wish to change the amount of spousal support owed.

In California, such changes can only be made if there has been significant change in circumstances since the order was issued. For example, if a person loses their job and can no longer afford the current amount due, they may want to seek a modification of spousal support. A modification of spousal support may also be sought if it is believed the receiving party is not making a good faith effort to become financially self-sufficient. When a request for a change in spousal support is made, the amount owed may go up or down.

It is important to keep in mind that, until a new order is issued, the current order stands. This means that the paying party will still be responsible for meeting their spousal support obligations as laid out in the current order until that order is changed. So, if the paying party experiences a change in circumstances that makes them unable to meet these obligations, they may want to seek a modification sooner rather than later. Some people find it beneficial to discuss their situation with a professional, so they can better understand how the law will apply to the facts of their case.

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