How to Get Out of Paying Alimony in California - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

How to Get Out of Paying Alimony in California

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Alimony is one of the highest costs associated with getting a divorce. In California, alimony settlements can incur high legal fees and court costs for each spouse. There are, however, many opportunities laid out in Californian legislation for when to adjust or abolish alimony or spousal support payments.

It can be a good idea to have the courts reassess your payment amounts if you or your former spouse have had significant life changes like employment status or marital status.

The length of your marriage is also taken into account in the length of time that alimony payments are required. A short marriage means you may only be facing payments for a few years, usually limited to half the length of the marriage. The flipside of this is that for long marriages, courts can also order permanent alimony. Setting an end date for your alimony is one of the best ways to save money overall.

Adjusting your payments or becoming exempt will have a much more significant impact on your finances if you have been ordered to pay permanent alimony. There are some ways to end your payments completely and get out of paying alimony in California, but each situation is unique.

Changes in Your Situation

Changes in your living or working situation are often all it takes for California alimony laws to change the amount of your payment. A divorce attorney can advise you further on your unique situation, but these are the main reasons that alimony payments are changed or eliminated.

Even temporary changes should be reported right away, become there is a time limit on new court orders. If you lose your job and try for a couple of months to find a new one, you have missed the opportunity to reduce your payments.


Retiring is a major change to anyone’s finances and is one reason courts will reassess alimony payments. This stage in life is typically associated with a steep drop in income, but it does not always guarantee your payments will go down. Permanent spousal support will generally continue after retirement if your former spouse never worked during the marriage.

Your full retirement income will be factored in when the court looks at whether to adjust alimony payments. Retirement income includes Social Security, any pension programs, and investment income that you are benefiting from in retirement. If you have replaced your day job income with other streams of income so you can stop working actively, these new sources of money will still be applied to your spousal support.


In the event that a new illness or disability forces you to stop working or reduces your potential to work, a new court order can adjust your payments. This will depend on the degree of disability and the direct impact on income.


If you have lost your job or been furloughed, you should immediately request a new court order regarding the amount of your payments. It will often not eliminate payments completely, but the relief from not making full payments while not earning income can be life-changing.

Job Change

If you have received a promotion or better-paying job, then you should be pleased, of course. However, your ex may hit you with a new court order increasing your alimony payments. On the other side of this, a new job with lower earnings should lower your alimony amount if you act quickly to file.

Changes with Former Spouse

Your spousal support payments also depend on the living situation of your ex. If they begin to work or get a raise, you may be able to reduce your financial burden. Similarly, if your former spouse remarries or even moves in with a new significant other, they will void your alimony payment since they now are in the position to share expenses with someone new.

In either of these situations, you should promptly file for a new court order. A divorce or alimony attorney should be able to help you get out of some, if not all, alimony in these cases.

About the author

Lynda King

While she had a solid education in law, Lynda King wanted more than a job as a lawyer. She knew that people needed information and a better understanding of everyday legal matters, so she began writing articles and guidelines to educate individuals and businesses. Now, Lynda is collaborating with Farzad & Ochoa Family Law Attorneys, being proud that her knowledge and writing talent are helping everyone every day. Contact the author.

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