How to Modify Spousal Support in California

Upon filing for divorce or legal separation in California, a spouse can request to receive spousal support. The purpose of spousal support is to allow a lesser earning spouse to “get back on their feet” while still enjoying a similar standard of living while married.  As your financial situation may change, you may need to modify your California spousal support order.

The simplest way to modify the amount of spousal support is to discuss the modification with your ex.  If you are on good terms, you may come to an agreement to modify the support order.  If you both agree, then you can both sign a written modification and file it with the court. We prepare stipulated spousal support orders to file with the court. Contact us for more information. Sign up for our California Spousal Support eCourse for insight into California spousal support laws.


How to Decrease Your California Spousal Support Order

If you need to decrease the amount of spousal support, and your ex refuses to agree to the modification you will need to get a court order.  You must complete the following forms (in addition to any local court forms) to modify your spousal support order: Request for Order (FL-300), Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150), and aDeclaration (MC-030) . Use the delcaration to explain to the court why you need a modification and an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).  Filing a Request for Order entails a $60 filing fee which may be waived if income requirements are met.  After you file the forms, the court will set a hearing date.  You must serve your ex within 16 days of the hearing.  Some family law courts have mediation services that can assist you with resolving the dispute without a hearing.

Spousal Support Decrease Requirements

If you need to lower the amount of support, there must be a change in your or your ex’s financial situation to justify the modification.  This can be a decrease in your income due to circumstances out of your control.  If you are over age 65, retirement is a valid reason to reduce spousal support payments.  An increase in your ex’s income or a sudden windfall, like an inheritance, may also be used to justify a modification in the spousal support amount.  If your ex begins cohabitating with apartner (romantic relationship), there is a rebuttable presumption that he/she requires less support.

Spousal Support Increase Requirements

If you are receiving support and you need to increase the amount of support, you can petition the court for an increase under limited circumstances.  Either the original amount of spousal support was not adequate to meet you needs or there has been a sudden increase in your living expenses, and you need additional support to maintain your current lifestyle.  Remember that the purpose of spousal support is for you to maintain a similar standard of living to the one you had while married (so an increase in your ex’s income is not a justification to increase the amount of support).

If the original spousal support order stated that it was not subject to modification or both spouses agreed in open court that support order was not subject to modification, a court will not grant a modification not matter how much circumstances may justify one.

SD Esquire Flat Fee Spousal Support  Service

SD Esquire provides flat fee spousal support modification services. We will prepare the legal documents you need to file for a request to modify your spousal support order.  This includes preparing and filling the Request for Order and the Findings & Order After Hearding.  Our spousal support service starts at $695 (you are responsible for paying court filling fees).  The fee also includes service of process fees.  Sign up today to get started.

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