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Potential grounds for alimony modification in California

In some California divorce cases, the final dissolution judgment may include a court order requiring one party to pay spousal support or alimony. This involves one party making payments to the other for a specified time period. The goal is to allow the receiving party sufficient time to find a source of income so they can support themselves.

However, spousal support is not set on stone. Regardless of the provisions of the divorce ruling, alimony payments are not guaranteed to continue forever. California Family Law Code allows for modification of spousal support payments under certain circumstances.

Here are three instances when you can petition a California court for a modification of spousal support arrangements.

When the supported party acquires a separate estate

According to California Family Code, the court can grant a motion to terminate spousal support if the benefitting party has no minor children and has acquired a separate estate that is able to provide sufficient income. Also, a spousal support order can be terminated if the benefitting party dissipates their separate estate that would have otherwise provided adequate support. In the other words, the court cannot reward the benefitting party for mismanaging or mishandling their separate estate.

When the benefiting party remarries

Unless the divorcing parties agree in writing, spousal support automatically ends when the benefitting party remarries. Also, when the supported party enters into cohabitation with a romantic companion, the supporting party may petition the court for termination of spousal support as long as they can prove cohabitation.

Retirement or loss of income

Change in circumstances occasioned by retirement or loss of employment may be sufficient grounds for petitioning the court to review spousal support arrangements. For instance, the court cannot compel a 65-year old to continue working so they can pay spousal support as they used to. Also, the court cannot direct a retiree to invade the principal of their investment for purposes of paying alimony.

Spousal support is not a “set and forget” matter. There are circumstances that can allow for spousal support orders to be reviewed and modified.