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Can Alimony Be Modified in California?

California alimony, also known as spousal support, can be modified. There is one important caveat to this: if you and your ex-spouse agreed in your settlement agreement that spousal support would be non-modifiable. If the term "non-modifiable" is in your agreement, then the court is without jurisdiction to modify or change the ordered spousal support amount. Assuming no such wording is in your court order or judgment, you and your ex-spouse  can agree to modify or even terminate spousal support whenever you wish, but a modification of spousal support in California typically takes place when there has been a change in circumstances for either of the parties. 

One common change in circumstances leading to a modification of spousal support is when the spouse receiving support begins living with a person of the opposite sex. California law presumes in this case (though the presumption can be rebutted) that there is a decreased need for spousal support. Other common changes of circumstances include an increase in income of the party receiving support, or a job loss or decreased income on the part of the person paying the support.  An increase in the income of the person paying support after the divorce, however, does not necessarily warrant an increase in spousal support. Because spousal support payments are typically paid through wage assignment directly from a person's paycheck, it is important to submit a new wage garnishment to the employer if a court order is made modifying the amount of spousal support to be paid.   

Spousal support terminates automatically on the death of the spouse receiving support and if the supported spouse remarries.

San Diego Bar AssociationSection of Family LawCalifornia State Bar Family Law American Bar Association Avvo Clients' Choice 2014