In California, permanent spousal support ordered at the end of a divorce can be modified by a judge in the future if there is a change in circumstances (absent some exceptions we won’t consider here). Now, what will be considered a change in circumstances is, effectively, specific to each case. Hopefully, there is a clear record made at the time of the judgment that reflects what the circumstances were at the time, so that any judge considering a potential modification can determine whether those circumstances have changed.
There are, however, some clear statements in the California Family Code that give us guidance on what will or won’t be a change of circumstances, one of which is Family Code section 4323. Section (a) of that statute relates to cohabiting. That will be discussed in another article.
Section (b) of Family Code section 4323 states that, for someone paying spousal support, their new spouse’s income is not considered for purposes of determining how much the spousal support recipient receives. This is an absolute prohibition, no exceptions. So, while the household of the spousal support payor has experienced an increase in income, the recipient cannot ask for more money (all other things being equal).
Alternatively, there are circumstances where the spousal support payor experiences an increase in their own income from a source other than a new spouse, and the recipient may be entitled to an upward modification of spousal support. That is provided for in Family Code section 4320.
If you have questions about a recent change in financial circumstances, and how that affects your spousal support order, contact Scott & Matteson Family Law by calling (858) 974-4900.