California Court Explains the Impact of a Subsequent Marriage on Spousal Support

When people decide to legally end their marriage, it is not uncommon for the Courts to order one party to pay the other spousal support. Generally, when the California Courts impose a spousal support obligation on a party in a divorce action, the obligation will cease if the party receiving support remarries. There are exceptions to the general rule, though, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling issued in a divorce matter. If you are subject to a spousal support order and have questions regarding modification, it is in your best interest to meet with a San Diego spousal support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for about 13 years before deciding to end their marriage. They stipulated a judgment of dissolution; as part of the judgment, the husband agreed to pay the wife $1,000 in spousal support each month for seven years. About two and a half months after entering into the stipulated judgment, the wife remarried. The husband then moved to terminate his spousal support obligation.

Allegedly, the Trial Court denied his request on the grounds that the stipulated judgment did not agree to apply Family Code Section 4337, which states spousal support obligations terminate upon the remarriage of the party receiving support unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. The husband appealed.

The Impact of a Subsequent Marriage on a Spousal Support Obligation

On appeal, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that a party receiving spousal support bears the burden of proving that the spouse providing support waived the section 4337 right to permit payments to end upon remarriage. The Court elaborated that the waiver must be in writing, and the evidence in support of the waiver must be both clear and convincing.

No exact words are needed for a party to waive their section 4337 rights. Still, a statement that a support obligation cannot be modified for any reason is not adequate to demonstrate waiver, as terminating a support obligation is different from modifying it. The Court clarified, though, that the phrase “not modifiable” may be adequate to show a waiver of the right to termination of the remainder of the language if the agreement demonstrates such intent. In the subject case, the agreement stated the judgment could not be modified under any circumstances. The Appellate Court found this sufficient to demonstrate waiver and affirmed the Trial Court ruling.

Confer with a Dedicated California Divorce Attorney

While parties have the right to develop their own agreements with regard to spousal support, they should be cautious when doing so, as they may inadvertently waive certain rights if they are not careful. If you or your spouse are considering seeking a divorce, it is wise to confer with an attorney regarding your rights. At Doppelt and Forney APLC, our dedicated San Diego divorce attorneys have ample experience helping people navigate the complexities of divorce, and if you hire us, we will diligently pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf. You can contact us via our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential conference.

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