Modification of permanent spousal support
When requesting modification of permanent spousal support (or alimony) there are certain things that absolutely must be done. The below steps give a general outline to what you have to give to the Judge to have the Judge consider modification (or even termination of support).
Top 5 requirements for Modification of Permanent Spousal Support (alimony) in California1. First, you have to file your request. In addition to the Request for Order forms, you will also have to file an Income and Expense Declaration, with proof of your income for the past 90 days. Also, you have to allege some sort of "change of circumstance" that warrants a modification. Let's assume you are the payor of spousal support. An example of a change of circumstance would be if you lost your job, and were able to find a different job, but at lesser income. Another example would be if you reached retirement age (65) and retired from your job. Whatever your reason for going to court, you want to include it in your declaration. Be specific, and provide evidence (if you have it) of what your alleging. Example: If you retired, provide your retirement information provided to your employer, or your first retirement check, etc).
2. You also have to provide either the Spousal Support Factors form, OR a declaration listing out the spousal support factors. In divorce judgments, these factors (also called the Family Code 4320 factors) are contained within it, detailing the facts and circumstances in existence at the time the permanent amount of support was ordered. If this is NOT contained in your judgment, then you will need to provide that information to the Judge, so the Judge can make appropriate findings.
3. If the 4320 Factors are not listed out in your judgment, you will need to provide information about them to the Judge, for your modification hearing. The Judge will then have to make findings (decisions) about the factors, after the divorce, which could hurt you. Having the Judge make the decision as to the 4320 factors, after the fact, can be potentially damaging to your case.
4. After the motion is filed, you have to have the other party served. PERSONALLY SERVED. This means that someone unrelated to the action MUST give the documents to the other party. They CANNOT be mailed. Have the person who served the documents complete the proof of personal service form. File that form with the Court.
5. Wait for the hearing date. On the hearing day, you're going to want to bring an extra copy of your documents, just in case they somehow get misplaced at the Courthouse. Believe it or not, this happens quite a bit, where you go to a hearing and the Judge does not have a copy of the documents you filed. So carry an extra set, so you can give it to the Judge if necessary. Present your evidence in a clear, concise manner. Judges like it when a party (and lawyer!) can present the facts clearly, concisely, and within the time constraints. Judges typically hear 10-20 matters in the morning, with each matter set for 20 minutes. If you're able to present your side of things clearly, and within the time limits, Judges definitely appreciate that. Also, you're obligated to meet with the other party on the day of the hearing to try to reach an agreement. This doesn't mean you HAVE to reach an agreement. But you do have to attempt to discuss the issue prior to going before the Judge.
Self Represented Litigants: You're held to the same standards as attorneys!You cannot claim that you're not an attorney, and were unaware of certain things (such as personal service being required, or, including the 4320 factors for a modification of spousal support), because the Judge will not care. If you represent yourself, you are held to the same standards that attorneys are.
Modification of permanent support can be a complex and difficult task. Being prepared, and including all necessary documents is one step closer to achieving your request.