California Court Discusses Grounds for Modifying Temporary Spousal Support Orders

In many marriages, one party will work outside of the home while the other takes care of the household and raises the children. If couples with unequal incomes divorce, the lesser-earning party will most likely be at a financial disadvantage, not only after the divorce is final but also while it is pending. In such cases, the courts will often find it appropriate to order the higher-earning spouse to pay temporary spousal support. While parties do not always agree with the terms of temporary spousal support orders, they can be difficult to modify, as illustrated in a recent opinion issued in a California divorce action. If you have questions about how divorce may impact your rights and obligations, it is smart to talk to a Bay Area divorce attorney promptly.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties married in 2001 and separated in 2020. They had two children during their marriage. The husband owned a real estate development company and other businesses; the wife did not work but stayed home with the children. In October 2020, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage that included a request for spousal support.

It is reported that the wife later submitted a document setting forth her support calculations, in which she requested approximately $30,000 per month in child and spousal support, which she deemed an interim request. Following a hearing, the court ordered the husband to pay $15,000 per month in temporary child and spousal support. The husband moved for a modification of the temporary support order, but the court denied his motion. He then filed a motion to reduce his support obligation, which was denied as well. He appealed.

Grounds for Modifying Temporary Spousal Support Orders

On appeal, the husband argued that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his request to modify his temporary support obligation in light of the wife’s excessive spending and misconduct. The court ultimately denied his appeal and affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court explained that, under California law, support orders may generally be terminated or modified by the courts at any time as the courts deem necessary.

Typically, the courts will not revise a child support order absent evidence of a material change in circumstances. Additionally, the majority view is that this general standard applies to spousal support orders as well. The primary reason for the rule is to prevent parties from relitigating the same facts. In the subject case, the court found that the husband failed to show that the circumstances had changed in a way sufficient to warrant a modification. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced California Family Law Attorney

Divorces often leave one party at a financial disadvantage, but they may be able to mitigate their economic hardships by requesting spousal support. If you need assistance with a divorce action, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your options. The experienced family law attorneys of Bay Area Family Law Center are proficient at helping people protect their interests in divorce actions, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously in your favor. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 925-258-2020 to set up a conference.

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