Spousal Support Modification

In many divorce cases, the judge makes both temporary and “permanent” orders for spousal support. Often, parties stipulate or agree to a support amount without the need for judicial intervention. We understand how important these orders for support are and can help you understand the law as it relates to spousal support. In California, there are strict guidelines for calculating child support. There is no such spousal support guideline calculation. Rather, generally, a spousal support award is based on two main factors: the payor’s ability to pay and the payee’s need for support.

At the outset of your case we will meet with you to discuss any current support orders and any grounds for modifying these orders. It is important to note that an order for spousal support may not be modified if an agreement or order exists providing that the spousal support is not subject to modification. However, if no such order or agreement exists, spousal support may be modified. In San Diego, the standard for modifying spousal support is “changed circumstances”. Case law has defined “changed circumstances” as a decrease or increase in the paying spouse’s ability to pay and/or a decrease or increase of the receiving spouse’s need for support.

In some cases, the judge may issue a Gavron warning to a supported spouse. A Gavron warning puts the supported spouse on notice that he or she may be expected to become self-sufficient. A receiving spouse’s failure to make a good-faith effort to become self-supporting may be considered a changed circumstance and therefore a basis as which to modify support.

Because modification requires a material change of circumstances since the previous agreement or order, the judge may make new orders considering the new set of facts. In this case, the judge will weigh and balance what are known as FC 4320 factors, which include: (1) the marital standard of living, (2) ability to pay, (3) need, (4) duration of the marriage, (5) age and health of the parties, (6) any history of domestic violence, and (7) any other factors the court finds relevant and equitable.

If you and your spouse/former spouse cannot agree on a modification of spousal support, we will provide you with information and guide you through your options. If negotiations with your spouse fail, our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to litigate your case.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, call us at (858) 793-8884.