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How Can You Challenge a Spousal Support Order in California?

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What is Alimony?

Alimony is also known as spousal support and spousal maintenance. It is financial support paid by one spouse or domestic partner to their former partner after the end of their union, either because of a divorce or separation. The purpose of alimony is for the recipient to maintain a certain standard of living and help them get back on their feet after the end of their marriage or partnership.

A family law judge could order either temporary or permanent spousal support. Temporary alimony is usually ordered in order to help the spouse who is less financially stable make ends meet and pay their bills during the divorce process. Once the divorce is final, courts may terminate temporary spousal support or modify it to make it permanent.

Is Spousal Maintenance Mandatory in California Divorces?

Alimony is not mandatory in California. Several factors may influence a family law judge’s decision on whether to award spousal support for one ex-spouse during divorce proceedings.

These factors may include:

  • The earning capacity of either spouse.
  • The emotional, physical, and financial status of either spouse.
  • The existence of a ++ or postnuptial agreement.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The standards of living during the course of the marriage.
  • And more.

Is it Possible to Dispute Spousal Support Orders?

It can be very frustrating to be ordered to pay spousal support, especially if the orders are on a long-term or permanent basis. You are legally required to meet the obligations of your spousal support orders. Failure to pay alimony in a timely manner could result in harsh consequences for the paying spouse.

If you believe that the spousal support orders are cruel, unfair, or excessive, you may have the legal option of disputing these orders. Your first step should be to contact experienced alimony attorneys for legal assistance.

What Are Potential Reasons to Challenge Spousal Support Orders?

Potential reasons for challenging a spousal support order include the following:

  • Errors were made during the divorce proceedings that affected the court’s judgment.
  • Important new information has come to light that could affect your alimony case.
  • The recipient spouse is now cohabitating with another adult.
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances for either you or your ex-spouse.
  • There was domestic violence or attempted murder at some point during the marriage.
  • You have reason to believe that the ordered spousal support is unfair or excessive.

Can You Appeal the Family Court’s Decision?

In certain circumstances, you may be able to appeal the decision made by the family law judge. Typically, only a highly skilled family law lawyer can tell you whether you qualify to file an appeal.

60 days after you receive or are served the documents notifying you of the court’s judgment, you have the potential to file an appeal. In certain situations, an extended time frame may be allowed, but you should speak with a lawyer to be certain.

Temporary and permanent alimony orders can be appealed. However, appellate guidelines must be followed. There must be compelling reasons to file an appeal.

Can You File a Motion for Reconsideration?

A motion for reconsideration is when a party that is affected by the court’s orders asks the court to reconsider its decision based on new information, changes in circumstances, or new laws.

A motion for reconsideration must be filed within ten days of being served the written notice of the court’s decisions. An affidavit with information about the original order and new facts, laws, or circumstances must be included with the motion. The requirements for filing a motion for reconsideration are very strict, and it would be wise to consult with a legal professional.

Is it Possible to Terminate Permanent Spousal Support?

If the two spouses are in agreement, it is possible to terminate spousal support from continuing.

However, if there is no agreement between the spouses, there still may be ways to seek spousal support termination. Ending permanent spousal support requires either a court order or a written agreement between the two interested parties. Permanent alimony also terminates if the supported spouse remarries or if one of the spouses passes away.

Terminating permanent alimony can be a challenge. Family law courts will not end spousal support payments without good reason. In order to successfully argue your case for the termination of alimony, please contact our law firm for legal assistance.

How to Modify Existing Spousal Support Orders in California?

If the two ex-partners agree to modifications to the existing alimony orders, they must provide a written declaration of the modification to the family law court. If, however, the two parties cannot agree on new terms for spousal support, a court must make the final decision.

If the paying party experiences a significant change in circumstances, they can petition the courts to modify existing alimony payments. The party seeking modifications has the burden of proof to show the courts that the modification is justified.

Contact our divorce attorneys for legal help.

What Qualifies as a Material Change in Circumstances?

Family law courts generally only accept modifications or terminations to alimony payments if there has been a significant material change in circumstances for either party.

Common reasons to modify alimony in California include:

  • The paying spouse becomes disabled or retires.
  • The person paying alimony experiences job loss or a significant decrease in income.
  • The person paying spousal maintenance is incarcerated.
  • The person receiving alimony is not acting in good faith to become self-supporting.
  • The recipient no longer requires financial assistance.
  • The recipient party remarries.
  • There was a misrepresentation of the facts that would have impacted the judge’s decision on spousal support.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today

If you wish to contest a spousal support order, it is highly recommended that you first consult with an experienced attorney familiar with the practice areas of divorce and alimony. Our law firm has extensive experience helping clients with complex alimony cases, and we would be proud to represent your legal rights as you pursue the aim of reducing or terminating spousal support orders.

Contact our family law attorneys to schedule your in-depth case evaluation today. You may get in touch with us at 408-688-9153.

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