Although many Californians see marriage as a way to proclaim their love for their spouse, undertaking such an act also has financial ramifications. Absent a prenuptial agreement, spouses agree to share their finances. While this may make paying bills during marriage simple, and one's standard of living may increase significantly, that can all come crashing down if the relationship ends in divorce. Of course, through the divorce process an individual can seek compensation that makes the split more equitable. This often takes the form of alimony, which we have discussed previously on the blog.
There are a number of factors that go into determining whether alimony should be awarded and, if so, how much. Yet, those factors do not remain constant over time. Instead, individuals change jobs, lose jobs, get hit by an unexpected medical condition, and remarry. These changes may have an effect on one's ability to pay a spousal support obligation. Instead of simply not paying the obligation and falling behind on payments, these individuals need to take action, as they may be able to legally reduce the amount that they owe.
In order to reduce a support order, an individual must prove that there has been a significant change in the individual's life or that the receiving spouse is not making a reasonable attempt to become self-supporting. Alimony may also be ceased if the receiving spouse remarries. What is important to remember, though, is that action to modify or cease spousal support needs to be taken quickly. Even if it seems like a job loss or decrease in income is temporary, it is crucial to portray that information to the court so that a modification can be obtained as quickly as possible. After all, life doesn't always align with our expectations. So, a job lay off may last for much longer than anticipated.
Modifications to spousal support are often hotly contested. For this reason, those seeking a modification should expect to face pushback. To ensure that their position is legally sound and backed by evidence that will be convincing to a judge, those who find themselves in this position should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney.