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Can spousal support be altered after a change in employment?

At one time, certain professions were considered to be a job for life. These days, the employment market is such that California residents could face changes in their circumstances at almost any time. If a change in circumstances comes to an individual who is paying spousal support, can he or she apply to have the amount adjusted?

Spousal support, along with certain other support payments such as child support, can be reviewed in light of a change of circumstances. This applies whether the payment was set by a court or by mutual agreement between the two parties. However, the reason for the change in circumstances that lead to the need to reduce the payments may be subject to further examination or questioning.

Spousal support is usually based on one spouse's earning capacity, in comparison with the financial requirement of the other spouse to continue with the same lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage. If the person making the payments has deliberately left his or her employment in order to avoid paying the spousal support, this may count against that individual. Similarly, cutting one's hours or changing to a lower paid job may also be seen as a suspect move.

In genuine cases, judges will consider requests to reduce spousal support payments from California residents, based on their new expected incomes. Showing evidence that the change in circumstances is not voluntary will help to back this up. Keeping good financial records, along with any correspondence relating to loss of or changes in employment, will also assist the judge in determining how much one can afford to pay his or her ex.

Source: nj.com, "Can I pay less alimony after job change?", Karin Price Mueller, Sept. 7, 2017

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