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Spousal Support Modifications

Pasadena Divorce Lawyer

When two people agree upon or obtain an official divorce, there are many conditions and terms within that agreement that are made in accordance with their financial circumstances at that time. Down the road and into the future, one or both of those people may go through changes that will make the original terms of the divorce inadequate or irrelevant to their new circumstances. If this happens, the former spouse unsatisfied with the spousal support terms may request a modification in order to fit it into their new life.

There are a number of reasons that may warrant a modification in the terms of a spousal support order. If the two former spouses are in agreement about the need for a change and the type of change, they do not need to obtain an order from the court. While this is convenient in some ways, it may serve to work against them in the future because the agreement they come to in private has no enforcement. Therefore, if one of the former spouses decides to go back on their agreement, the other spouse has no way to stop them. Although it may be easier for two mutually agreeing former spouses to skip the step of obtaining a court order, it may be in both of their best interest in the future.

Former spouses unable to agree on a new change to the terms of spousal support may need to go to a court hearing in order to request that a judge implement the new order. In this case, the former spouse with the need for a change will request a hearing in which both of the individuals will present their arguments for or against a modification. Based on the validity of the request, supported by need and substantial change in circumstance, the judge may grant a permanent or temporary modification to the spousal support order.

Do You Need to Request a Modification?

Before heading to court to request a hearing, former spouses seeking a modification should look back to their original divorce order to see whether the clauses include any provisions for an automatic modification. There are two popular clauses used in a divorce settlement that would allow for adjustment to new circumstances. The first is called the escalator clause. If a couple includes an escalator clause in their divorce, this means that the recipient of support will automatically experience an increase in support if the paying spouse experiences a raise in income or financial means. The second clause is known as a "cost of living adjustment" clause, or a cola clause. This means that if the cost of living in the area or state increases due to inflation or uncontrollable economic changes, then the payments for alimony or spousal support will also increase at an equal rate. Having either of these clauses included in an original divorce may help the couple avoid having to request a modification in the future.

Assuming a couple did not include any such clauses, one or both may still obtain a modification to the terms of spousal support through the court hearing discussed above. The court will be looking for factual, substantial reasons for increasing or decreasing payments such as the loss of work, remarriage, cohabitation or disability. Temporary modifications may be granted in times of financial or medical emergency as well.

If you are finding that the original terms to your spousal support agreement are insufficient to meet your current needs because of a change in circumstances, requesting a modification may be right for you.

Contact a Pasadena divorce lawyer to learn more about the process from a qualified legal professional. Call us today at (626) 408-0235!

Law Office of Fritzie Galliani, APC - Pasadena Divorce Attorney
Located at 1770 Corson Street Pasadena, CA 91106. View Map
Phone: (626) 408-0235 | Local Phone: (626) 577-2326.