Modifying Spousal Support

In the future, your spousal support order may no longer be right because of some kind of life change. If it's a material change of circumstances, you can change the spousal support order, called a modification. A material change of circumstance requires a significant change that was not present when the original support order was made. Some examples of a material change might be a disability, unemployment, retirement, significant change of income, or if the supported party cohabitates with a romantic partner. But, without a material change of circumstance, spousal support cannot be modified. This is to protect the spouses from constantly re-negotiating spousal support. Not liking the order is not a material change.

You can waive this protection. If you don’t have a material change, but you both agree to modify support, you can modify it with a written agreement, which waives the material change requirement. This doesn’t happen often. Most of the time, one spouse will want to keep the original order and will not waive the material change requirement.

If you have reached an agreement to modify with your spouse, use “Spousal, Partner or Family Support Order Attachment,” FL-343, and follow the instructions in “Obtaining Temporary Orders”. Otherwise, if you have a material change and no agreement, you can file a request with the court using the Request for Order, FL-300 with FL-343, and follow the instructions in Obtaining Temporary Orders as well.

If you are unsure if there has been a material change, just as with child support, you can request a completed Income and Expense Declaration, FL-150, from your spouse, once a year, while support is being paid. You can review it to see if there have been any changes. If your spouse requests one from you, make sure to complete it fully. If you do not, your spouse can request the information from your employer and you can be sanctioned by the court.

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