Terminate Spousal Support in California
When a couple divorce or legally separate, the court may order a spouse to pay spousal support, also referred to as alimony. Spousal support is awarded to the lower income earning spouse to help them “get back on their feet” while transitioning to “single status.” If the supported spouse no longer needs support, the paying spouse can get a court order to terminate support payments.
Overview of Alimony Termination in California
If a spouse receiving support no longer needs it, the couple can agree to terminate support, sign it, and file it with the court. A verbal agreement to terminate support is not sufficient, and the supporting spouse may still be liable for support if he/she does not inform the court of the agreement. If the spouse receiving support will not sign off on the agreement, the supporting spouse can petition the court to terminate spousal support. In California, terminating spousal support requires Request for Order (FL-300), and Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150), and a Declaration (MC-030), which requires an explanation for the termination.
Filing a request for order entails a $60 filing fee (this fee may increase on an annual basis), which can be waived if income requirements are met. After the forms have been filed, the court will set a hearing date. The petitioning spouse must serve the supported spouse within 16 court days of the hearing. Some family law courts have mediation services that may be able to resolve a dispute over spousal support without a formal hearing.
Change in Circumstance Requirement
The court will not terminate spousal support unless there is a change in circumstance, for example a decrease in the supporting spouse’s income. The decrease in income should be due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a layoff or a long-term medical condition. A person cannot deliberately decrease his/her income to avoid spousal support. The decrease in income may be due to retirement if the supporting spouse is over 65 years old. Another change in circumstance that may justify a termination of support is an increase in the spouse’s income or a sudden windfall, such as an inheritance. If the supported spouse begins cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex, there is a rebuttable presumption that less support is required, and this may be justification to end support.
Spousal support is supposed to be temporary, but for longer marriages, the court might not set an end date. However, the supported spouse is still expected to become self-sufficient. If the supported spouse makes little effort to become sufficient, the court may issue a Gavron warning that support may end if he/she does not become sufficient. This may be justification to terminate support.
In some cases, spousal support automatically terminates without a court order. If the supported spouse remarries or the support period has ended, the supporting spouse will no longer be required to pay support. Even though support has terminated, the supporting spouse may need to end wage garnishments by filing an Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support (FL-435) with their employer.
SD Esquire Spousal Support Termination Service
SD Esquire provides spousal support termination services. We will prepare the legal documents you need to file for a request to terminate your spousal support order. Sign up today to get started.