Your Legal Responsibility to Pay Spousal Support
In California, if you have been court-ordered to pay spousal support, you must continue paying in full until you receive a change order signed by a judge. This is true regardless of changes in your financial situation or any verbal agreements you have made with your former spouse or partner.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Spousal Support?
If you fail to pay, you could be subject to legal action and even be held in contempt of court. The court can compel spousal support payments by garnishing your wages, levying your bank accounts, or intercepting your tax refunds. Even if your financial circumstances have worsened dramatically, you must continue making the payments, but you can seek legal help to request a modification of the spousal support order from the court.
Reasons for Modifying Spousal Support Orders
For the court to reduce or terminate your spousal support payments, there must have been a material change in your circumstances since the last order was issued. For example:
- Reduction of your income
- Increase in your former spouse’s income
- Upward change in your ex-spouse’s lifestyle or financial status (receiving an inheritance, for example)
- Your former spouse moves in with a new partner
- Your former spouse marries someone else
How Do You Request a Change of Spousal Support Orders?
If you and your ex-spouse can agree on the changes to your spousal support payment, you can write them up as an agreement or stipulation and submit it to the judge for a signature. Unless and until the judge signs it, your spousal support payment remains unchanged and legally required.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on the change, you must file a motion with the court requesting modification, and back it up with proof of the changed circumstances.
What Mattis Law, A.P.C., Can Do for You
If you believe your support payments should be reduced or terminated, contact Mattis Law, A.P.C., right away. Our San Diego family law attorneys can represent you in a request to the court. We offer a free initial consultation at (858) 458-9500.