What is the Procedure to Modify a Permanent Order of Alimony in Your Divorce or Legal Separation Case in a San Diego Court Case in 2014?
Whether your case is a divorce or legal separation in San Diego County, your case is either pre judgment or post judgment. For purposes of discussion for San Diego Superior Court cases, again, whether divorce or legal separation, alimony and spousal support mean the same thing. For spousal support, whether you are the payor or payee and considering there is no difference between legal separation and divorce in this respect, it is crucial to accurately analyze. No one can guarantee the outcome of any case but there are some realistic expectations. In San Diego, for temporary orders, the Judge’s have the discretion to use the disso master program or the California Family Law Code Section 4320 to calculate the amount of support you pay or the amount of alimony you receive. For permanent spousal support, which means post judgment, then the Judges are not permitted by law to use the disso master and must analyze each of the 4320 factors from the Code. These are numerous and include the following:
- whether an abusive spouse has a criminal conviction who would be the payee
- what are the hardships, if any, and how are they balanced
- tax consequences to each party which are both immediate and specific
- age and health of the parties
- domestic violence against one of the parties which has documented evidence
- how long was the marriage
- what were the needs of each part on standard of living during marriage which is sometimes referred to as MSOL
- self support of each spouse and their ability to do so
- both parties capacity to earn
- contributions to the career, education or training of the supporting spouse
- any other factors the San Diego Superior Court Judge deems equitable
Absent written agreement, the only remaining remedy is to file a motion called a Request for Order. This is filed and your Income and Expense Declaration, as well as the other mandatory attachments and judicial council forms are filed and served upon the other party. The other party then files a response and the Judge hears the matter and decides whether or not to modify the support amount or duration. There can also be a request for a “step down” of support after a period of time. These can be very complicated and technical.WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE IF THE DURATION OF YOUR MARRIAGE WAS LESS OR MORE THAN 10 YEARS FOR ALIMONY?
In San Diego, if your marriage was less than ten years, then there is a clause in 4320 which states that spouses should become self supporting within one half the duration of the marriage. If your marriage was more than ten years, then the rules are different and the Court reserves jurisdiction for modifications. As such, the date of marriage and date of separation are very important.WHAT DOES A CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES MEAN FOR ALIMONY?
There are many changes of circumstances for spousal support modification. First, the death of either spouse will terminate support. Remarriage of the supported spouse will terminate support. The payor reaching 65 years of age will result in no income earning ability for employment. Cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex in a romantic relationship will result in a presumption [burden of proof] of decreased need. The payee’s income increasing is a change of circumstances. The payor’s income decreasing is a change of circumstances. Not making an effort to find full time employment can also be a change of circumstances. Finally, duration of the order can be a change of circumstances especially when the duration of the support order is greater than the duration of the marriage.HOW CAN A LOCAL SAN DIEGO LAW FIRM HELP?
Before filing a motion to modify a permanent order for spousal support, it is very important to analyze first. A detailed review of the 4320 factors are necessary. The Law Firm of Doppelt and Forney San Diego Divorce Lawyers can offer a complimentary consultation and discuss your rights and goals in regards to spousal support modifications as well as other family law matters.