Helping Families Navigate The Difficult Road Of Divorce

Is It Possible To Lower Or End Spousal Support?

The good news is that there is a way to end or decrease spousal support. Spousal support does not have to last forever. For marriages of less than 10 years, that is almost always true. Half of the length of the marriage is typical. For marriages of 10 years or more, otherwise known as marriages of long duration, spousal support can still end or lower at some point. Spousal support is not indefinite but can be a difficult area of the law to navigate on your own without the assistance of an attorney. I am Hogan W. Song, and I provide legal counsel, advice and representation for spousal support matters. I can help you create the best strategy for modifying or terminating spousal support.

How Do I Lower Or Terminate Spousal Support?

In order to change or terminate spousal support in Orange County, you will hear a very important phrase, “change of circumstances.” This is the prerequisite to modifying or terminating spousal support, otherwise known as the burden of proof. Something must have changed since the order was made and the change has to be significant. Income loss can be that change, but only when the income loss is due to losing a job or retirement.

Quitting A Job May Not Work To Lower Or Terminate Spousal Support

In most cases, quitting a job will not qualify, even if it was for a good reason. For example, in one case, entitled Marriage of Ilas, the husband quit his pharmacist job to go to medical school, and the trial court judge said no modification. Mr. Ilas appealed and argued that he was improving himself by fulfilling a lifelong dream. He also argued that he did not have any bad motive. But, the appeals court said, “Mr. Ilas did not have the right to divest himself of his earning ability” at the expense of those he needed to support. That he could pursue a degree, but that he must also continue to fulfill his financial obligations. (Marriage of Ilas (1993) 12 Cal.App.4th 1630, 1639.)

Retirement May Work To Lower Or Terminate Spousal Support

On the other hand, retiring at retirement age usually does qualify as a change of circumstance, if the retirement results in lower income. No one can be compelled to work after the usual retirement age of 65. But, an experienced Orange County spousal support attorney needs to examine all your income, including passive income, to see if modification is possible for your particular situation.

For Firefighters And State Peace Officers, Retirement Is At 55

Also, there is an early retirement qualification for firefighters and state peace officers. The retirement is at age 55, firefighters or state peace officers can qualify for modifying or terminating spousal support. (See the case of Marriage of Shimkus (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 1262.)

What About The Recipient’s Increase In Income Or A Decrease In Expenses?

An increase in income for the recipient or a decrease in their expenses can meet the changed circumstance standard. Also, under California’s Family Code section 4323(a), if the recipient is living with a nonmarital partner, the court may look at this as a decreased need for spousal support.

The Court Will Make A New 4320 Analysis

Once you past the threshold of changed circumstances, the court has to then evaluate Family Code section 4320 to decide whether to modify or terminate spousal support, just as it must when ordering the initial permanent spousal support order. (See the case of Marriage of Shimkus (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 1262.). The 4320 factors are a complex list of factors such as duration of the marriage, present and future earning capacity, marketable skills, level of education, comparative standard of living, age and health of the parties, among many others. As an experienced family law attorney, I can assist you with understanding the full scope of these factors as well as others the court could deem “just and equitable.”

Let’s Talk About Spousal Support

Call Song Family Law, APLC, to speak with a knowledgeable Orange County spousal support attorney. Contact my firm online or call me at 888-999-0259 for a consultation.