As the years go by after divorce, circumstances may change. Those changes in life could mean that any divorce settlement may need some modifications from the original. Divorced California residents can ask for changes to spousal support (also called alimony), or partner support with regard to domestic partnerships. A judge is the one who orders spousal/partner support and to change that order, it has to be shown that circumstances under which the order was initially made have changed.
There are many reasons for a modification. It could be that the former spouse paying support has had a big drop in income or it could be that the spouse receiving payments no longer needs the financial help. If the former spouse receiving the money remarries, the support or alimony, should end. A judge may rule in the same fashion for domestic partners who weren't legally married.
It's when the two individuals can't come to an agreement about the changes that a formal application for modification may be necessary. The person who is seeking the change has to file a court motion asking for a modification. Such a motion should be filed as soon as there are significant life changes that could affect the order already in place.
There are many rules in California pertaining to divorce and modifications to a spousal order is just one of them. Getting legal counsel may help in speeding up the process. An attorney might be able to provide the guidance necessary when petitioning the court for any changes to a spousal or partner support order.
Source: courts.ca.gov, "Changing (or Ending) a Spousal/Partner Support Order", Accessed on March 2, 2018