How Can A Spousal Support Order Be Changed in San Diego Superior Court?

Spousal support orders, in San Diego Court’s for temporary orders [pre judgment] are generally calculated using California’s Disso Master program. This is a statewide program which calculates both temporary spousal support and temporary and permanent child support. Calculations are usually based on both parties’ incomes as of the date of separation as well as expenses and other information and the San Diego Judge may inquire of the parties as to this information. However, either party can request modification of a spousal support order before the divorce is final or after the divorce is final if circumstances have substantially changed.

The two most common reasons for a payor to seek modification are a reduction in income for the payor or an increase in income for the payee. Re marriage of the payee spouse will terminate spousal support and cohabitation is a presumption of decreased need. It is important for a payor facing financial hardship to promptly request modification, since the court will not order modifications backdated to a date prior to the date they are requested. In other words, if you lose your job in February, request modification in April, and have a hearing in July, any modification order will begin as of the April date, and you will still be responsible for the full amount for the period from February until the April request date. Of course, this assumes the request for modification is granted.

The other common reason for a payor to seek modification is the belief that the payee’s financial situation has significantly changed. This can be due to increases in the payor’s employment or investment income or reduction in the payee’s expenses. Many payees are surprised to learn that California courts have ruled that cohabitation with a new partner is a presumption to reduce spousal support due to the assumed reduction in living expenses and a decreased need.

Another circumstance that can trigger a request for modification may occur if a payee is not actively trying to become self-supporting. It may be important for a payee to document activities such as education, vocational training, and job applications. The court may issue a Gavron Warning which places a deadline for the payee to become self-supporting. This may also include a requirement for job contacts or a vocational evaluation.

The most common reason for a payee to request modification of a spousal support order is a dramatic increase in income of the payor. If there is evidence that the increased resources were due to hidden assets at the time of the divorce, the payor may face serious legal consequences. However, if the increase is due to a windfall or another situation that occurred after the date of separation, the payee is not entitled to modification, since support is intended to maintain the standard of living during the marriage.

Modifications are not automatic. The court will request financial records from both parties and consider whether or not changes are permanent or temporary and whether or not the changes are voluntary. One example of a voluntary change would be quitting a job without a good reason.

A qualified San Diego divorce lawyer can advise you whether or not the changes in circumstances are likely to result in a modification of a spousal support order.

For a complimentary consultation on modification of spousal support or other family law issues, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online.