How to Change Spousal Support or Alimony in a San Diego Divorce


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Spousal support, also known as Alimony, can be a difficult issue during divorce. In California, there are two main types of spousal support: temporary and permanent.

Temporary spousal support, sometimes called pendente lite support, is a type of spousal support awarded while divorce proceedings are pending before a final judgment is entered. Permanent spousal support is spousal support awarded as part of a divorce settlement that is more long-term, though not necessarily forever. The length of a marriage will often determine the length of time an award of alimony will remain in place, though several factors may allow you to modify a support order.

How Can You Change Spousal support in a San Diego Divorce?

Having a support order modified, either one that is temporary or permanent, usually begins by requesting the court determine whether you meet the criteria for modification. Of course, if you and your spouse/former spouse can agree on new spousal support terms, you can submit those terms to the court for approval without requesting a modification determination from the court.

Generally, when a significant change occurs regarding any of the factors a judge used to determine alimony in the first place it may be possible to successfully modify spousal support. Such factors include:

  • The paying spouse has had an involuntary reduction in pay or has lost his or her job
  • The receiving spouse no longer requires spousal support
  • The receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates in a way where he or she is no longer entitled to receive support
  • The paying spouse is in a position where he or she is unable to pay support temporarily, such as being in jail
  • The receiving spouse does not make a good faith effort to become self-supporting

Recently, California courts have moved toward the idea that spousal support is eventually meant to come to an end. In other words, California law expects a spouse receiving support to work towards being self-supporting as soon as possible, regardless of the type of support order in place.

If the person requesting the modification is the spouse required to pay alimony, the burden of proving a change in circumstances will typically be on him or her. Arguing for modification can be a complex process, especially when trying to demonstrate cohabitation or lack of good faith. An experienced family law attorney can help you argue your case.

Can All Support Orders Be Modified?

No, not all support orders can be modified. California law makes spousal support orders where written or oral agreements regarding these orders prohibit modification. California law also prevents alimony orders that have been given a termination date from being extended unless the court has reserved the right to do so for orders not specifically preventing modification.

Contact a San Diego Divorce Lawyer

Alimony can be a complicated issue, but it is an important issue to understand for both parties. An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand how spousal support can affect you in a San Diego divorce, and can even help you understand some of the potential tax consequences that may accompany alimony.

If you are considering divorce or have already made the difficult decision to pursue divorce and have questions, contact JWB Family Law to schedule a free consultation where you can find out more information about the San Diego County divorce process and how spousal support might affect you.

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call us today. 619.234.6123

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JWB Family Law

Jane Wesley Brooks, CFLS
1901 First Avenue, Suite 148

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619. 234. 6123

Fax: 619. 564. 8046

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