California law allows for a person to petition the court if he or she believes a change in circumstances is enough to warrant another look at the spousal support order. Typically, a spousal support modification hearing is requested for matters such as a job loss, illness, disability, remarriage or even relocation of one former spouse.
Like child support, whatever the courts have ordered must be honored until the modification has been granted – assuming it will be. This is why it’s important to put the wheels in motion as soon as possible. The courts give no consideration to how long the hardship has been ongoing. It can only rule in the present day. Any changes to the modification are not retroactive.
Many people delay these requests because they assume they need to employ an attorney. What they don’t know is that they can pursue a spousal support modification simply by filling out the required forms and then scheduling a meeting with an Oceanside family law attorney. Your spousal support lawyer will look over the forms to ensure they’re filled out properly and there are no red flags that could prove problematic. From there, the paperwork can be filed with the court clerk (note that there may be filing fees), who will then provide the petitioner with a court date. Any other paperwork that needs to be completed will be provided at that time.
Next, the petitioner will need to serve his or her former spouse with the paperwork and it must be a third party who serves the papers. Typically, a court date is scheduled within a two-week period after filing the paperwork. This window of time should be used wisely.
While spousal support can be modified under any number of reasons, this does not mean child support will be modified. In fact, most California courts are hesitant in reducing child support with a few exceptions, such as a disability or being diagnosed with a disease that is either terminal or serious enough that it results in a job loss.
As the petitioner waits for the court date to arrive, there are a few things that should be addressed. Note that if the petitioner decides to hire an attorney, the lawyer will guide their client and ensure the paperwork is complete and properly filed. If, however, the petitioner decides to see the process through without an attorney, those details fall to the one making the request.
The most important part of this process is ensuring every form is filled out completely and accurately. The reasons for the spousal support modification should be clearly outlined and supported with evidence. The forms should be detailed to the point that they could stand alone and provide a complete picture of what’s being asked. Be sure to bring any proof that supports your claims, whether that might be direct deposit forms showing the reduction in pay, check stubs, or any other documentation.
Your spousal support attorney is a great ally to have as they can provide clarity and answers to questions, as the court date draws near. Once the courts have ruled, the changes then go into effect and the case is closed.