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When Does Spousal Support End in California?


Spousal support (also known as alimony in some states) is monthly financial support that a higher-earning spouse pays to a lower-earning spouse during or after a divorce or both. Spousal support is not automatic in a California divorce and a judge will usually award it if one spouse needs it and the wealthier spouse can afford to pay it.

Since California is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse’s infidelity will not bar him or her from receiving spousal support in a divorce. While marital misconduct is usually not a factor in a spousal support award, there is one exception and that is domestic violence. If there is proof that a spouse has committed spousal abuse or child abuse, especially in the past five years, the abusive spouse may be barred from receiving spousal support.

Terminating Spousal Support

If you believe spousal support may be awarded in your divorce case, you probably have questions, such as, “When does spousal support end in California?” and reasonably so! If spousal support is awarded in a California divorce, it will end when:

  • A court order says that the support ends;
  • A judgment says that the support ends;
  • One of the spouses passes away; OR
  • The spouse receiving the support remarries.

What about changing a spousal support order, can it ever be increased or decreased? There are circumstances where either party may need the amount of spousal support to change. Usually, this means the paying spouse wants it reduced and the receiving spouse wants it increased.

If you want the support amount to be changed or modified, you’ll need to prove to the court that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the original order was issued. If you can convince the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the court may agree to reduce or increase the amount accordingly.

If you’re paying support and you feel your ex is not making a good faith effort to become self-supporting, you can ask the court to change your support order based on this argument.

To get more information about modifying or terminating spousal support in California, contact Arnold Law Group, APC today.

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