California Modifications of Spousal Support

The Big Picture

Modifications of spousal support require the occurrence of specified events, the elapsing of specified time, or a “change of circumstances” warranting modification. This Blog post focuses on modifications of temporary and permanent spousal support. To speak with one of our attorneys regarding modifications of spousal support contact us today!

Modifications of Temporary Spousal Support

There are competing views regarding modification of temporary spousal support orders.

The majority view is that temporary spousal support modifications require a change of circumstances. (See Marriage of Freitas (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 1059; and Marriage of Gruen (2011) 191 Cal. App. 4th 627).

Some authority suggests that no change of circumstances is necessary to modify temporary spousal support. (See Zinke v. Zinke (1963) Cal. App. 2d 379).

In Counsel’s experience, most Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Judicial Officers look for a change of circumstances warranting modification of temporary spousal support.

Modification of Post-Judgment (Permanent) Spousal Support

Assuming that the court reserves jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support, the party seeking modification of a permanent spousal support order must show a material change of circumstances since the time of the most recent order. (See Marriage of West (2007) 152 Cal. App. 4th 240 and Marriage of Tydlaska (2003) 114 Cal. App. 4th 572).

What Qualifies as a Change of Circumstances for Modification of Spousal Support?

One court stated that a change of circumstances represents “practically everything which has a legitimate bearing upon the present and prospective matters relating to the lives of both parties”. See Marriage of Morrison (1978) 20 Cal. App. 3d 437.

This vague statement may make the reader think that any change is a change warranting modification of spousal support. In practice, a change of circumstances usually means reduction or increase in the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and/or increase or decrease in the supported spouse’s needs. See Marriage of Cobb (1977) 68 Cal. App. 3d 855.

Other factors which may warrant a modification of temporary spousal support include, but are not limited to: (i) minor child aging out of child support jurisdiction; (ii) cohabitation of spouse receiving spousal support; (iii) payor spouse being victim of domestic violence at hands of payee spouse.

Contact one of our attorneys today to discuss whether you should pursue a modification of your spousal support order. If your ex-spouse is requesting a modification of spousal support, contact one of our attorneys today to discuss the best course to accomplish your goals.

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