What Do I Need to Prove to Stop Paying Alimony / by Cassandra Hearn

During a marriage, spouses work together to make decisions regarding their finances. In some situations, the spouses may come to the agreement that one spouse should stay home and raise the parties’ children or make other career sacrifices to help the career of the other spouse. In short, it can often be the case that after many years of working together as a pair, one of the spouses has much less earning capacity and few career prospects. When this is the case and the parties divorce, that spouse may be awarded alimony, which is called spousal support in California. Spousal support is not a guarantee and there are certain situations in which a paying spouse may seek to have their spousal support obligation reduced or even terminated. There are specific elements a spouse will need to prove to the court in order to achieve this.

One way to terminate a spousal support order is to prove that your former spouse is now cohabitating with a new romantic partner. If you can prove that your former spouse is now cohabitating, there is a rebuttable presumption that the spousal support should be reduced or sometimes even terminated completely. The burden will then be on your former spouse to prove that he or she needs your continuing spousal support. You should keep in mind, however, that cohabitation does not usually include a mere roommate relationship.

Another way to terminate spousal support is if you can show the court that it is time for you to retire. Under the case of In re Marriage of Reynolds, the California court established that once you are eligible to retire at the age of 65, you will not be required to continue to work if the only reason you are working is to continue to meet the demands of your spousal support order.

Third, you can show to the court that you have lost your job or experienced a severe dip in your income. In order for this to apply to you and your case, this job loss cannot be temporary and it cannot be intentional. For example, getting laid off when you fully anticipate to get a new job with approximately the same earning capacity will probably not allow you to terminate your spousal support obligation. However if you were to suffer a severe injury that made it impossible for you to work or at least for you to maintain similar earning capacity, then a court may be more likely to terminate or at least reduce your spousal support order.

If you have questions about spousal support during or after divorce, call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation. We are here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities.