If you are divorced, living in California and are either paying or receiving spousal support, your situation may change at some point, which may lead you to wonder about changing your existing spousal support order. Maybe you were paying a certain amount in support, but you have since lost your job. Or maybe you have been receiving support but have reason to feel as if the amount you are getting is insufficient. Regardless of your reasoning for desiring a change in spousal support, the process for requesting a change remains the same.

Arguably, one of the most important steps involved in requesting a change to your existing California spousal support order involves requesting the change in real time. Why? A court cannot “back-date” a change to your support order, so if you are looking to change the amount you must pay each month, you will want to start the process as soon as you, say, lose your job or otherwise experience a change in financial circumstances.

How to request a spousal support order change

Requesting a change to your California spousal support order is a multi-step process. First, you must fill out the necessary forms and paperwork, which might include a Request for Order and an Income and Expense Declaration, among others. Next, you should have your local court’s family law facilitator review your paperwork for accuracy and thoroughness before making copies of your forms for yourself and your ex-spouse. You must then file the forms you filled out with the court clerk, at which time he or she will likely issue you and your former spouse a court date.

You must then have a third party serve papers to your former spouse detailing your court date, after which you must furnish proof of your doing so. Finally, you must attend your court hearing with all your paperwork in hand along with anything else you feel might strengthen your claim about needing to change the amount of spousal support you currently pay or receive.

Once you complete all these steps, you can expect the court to render a decision about your proposed spousal support order change.