California Court Discusses Determining Whether to Modify Spousal Support

In many marriages, one spouse is the primary breadwinner while the other takes care of the household and raises the couple’s children. When such marriages end, the Courts will often order the breadwinner spouse to pay spousal support. The Courts assess numerous factors to determine support obligations, but as circumstances can change over time, such obligations may need to be modified. Recently, a California Court discussed what factors should weigh into the determination of whether to increase a support obligation in a case in which the former wife sought a modification. If you have questions about spousal support, it is in your best interest to talk to a knowledgeable San Diego divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married for 26 years before they separated. They had five children during the marriage. The wife stayed at home to raise the children while the husband worked as an airline pilot. The divorce was finalized in 2015; at that time, two of the couple’s children were minors. The Court ordered the husband to pay child support and spousal support.

Reportedly, in 2016, one of the children aged out of child support, and the mother began working as an instructional assistant at a school. The Court increased the mother’s spousal support by $1,000 per month. In 2020, the second child aged out of child support, and the mother sought an additional increase in spousal support. The husband opposed her request and provided a declaration of his income and expenses, which included a line item for his children’s college tuition in the amount of $7,000 per month. The Court denied the wife’s motion, and she appealed.

Factors Considered in Determining Whether to Modify Spousal Support Obligations

On appeal, the wife argued, among other things, that the Court abused its discretion in considering the husband’s payment of college tuition expenses for their adult children. The Court disagreed, noting that the case the wife relied upon was distinguishable from the subject case, in that it dealt with a former spouse who made regular payments to her adult children and contended such payments required continued spousal support.

In contrast, the case relied on by the husband dealt with a request to consider the reasonableness of the paying spouse’s expenses, which in that case included college tuition payments. Here as in that case, the Court found the expenses to be reasonable and a valid justification for denying the wife’s request. Thus, it affirmed the Trial Court ruling.

Confer with a Capable San Diego Family Law Attorney

While the Courts thoroughly assess numerous factors in determining an appropriate spousal support obligation, such obligations may nonetheless need to be modified over time. If you have questions about your rights and obligations with regard to spousal support, it is advisable to confer with an attorney. The capable San Diego lawyers of Doppelt and Forney APLC can advise you of your options and help you to pursue a just result. You can contact us by calling us at 800-769-4748 or using our online form to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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