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Common Reasons Spousal Support Can Be Modified

Last updated 5 years ago

Commonly known as alimony, spousal support is meant to provide assistance for one spouse following the financial upheaval often associated with divorce. The monthly figure is determined by a complex formula that considers a variety of factors, such as the length of the marriage and the earning potential of both spouses. While spousal support may be ordered for a specified amount of time or until a certain event occurs, there are some circumstances which may warrant a modification of terms.

Cost of Living Adjustment

Most expenses continue to rise, even if a spouse’s support payments do not increase. There may be a clause in your divorce decree allowing for an automatic increase or you may be able to request an adjustment based on your changes in cost of living.

Financial Emergency

No matter how carefully costs and incomes are calculated, emergencies happen. If one spouse has a financial emergency, he or she may request a decrease or increase in spousal support.


Oftentimes, payments can be adjusted if one party encounters a change in circumstances. Cohabitation by the recipient spouse with a new partner is one frequently cited reason for modifying spousal support.


Another common change in circumstances involves disability. Spousal support may be increased if the recipient becomes disabled or decreased if the payor suffers a disabling injury.

Temporary Modification

The courts are not insensitive to short-term problems such as illness or job loss. Your payments may return to the original amount at the end of a set period or when the short-term issue has been resolved.

Do you have additional questions about spousal support? Contact Moreno Family Law for answers to all of your divorce, child custody, and support questions. We specialize in family law matters and have been helping clients for more than 20 years. To set up a consultation with a skilled family lawyer, call our San Jose office today at (408) 266-9011.


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