Spousal Support

After the Case

If the judge made a decision, the judge will sign the court order stating what decision was made. However, the case is not completed until the judge’s order is filed with the court clerk.

Preparing the “Order After Hearing”

At the hearing, the judge will tell one of the former spouses or partners to prepare a document called an “order” that reflects what the judge decided.

  • If the person asked to prepare the “order” does not have an attorney, the Family Law Facilitator can help them do the paperwork.

1. Complete:

  • Findings and Order After Hearing (Form FL-340)

It asks:

  • the date and courtroom where the case was heard.
  • the name of judge who presided.
  • the names of the former spouses or partners and any attorneys who attended.
  • what orders the judge made at that day.

Then there are different pages to be completed for the different orders that the judge issued. For instance:

  • If the judge only made spousal or partner support orders, then a completed Spousal, Partner or Family Support Order Attachment must be attached.
    • Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment
      (Form FL-343)
  • If there were any other orders made, the forms that apply must be attached.

2. When the forms are completed: Copies of them must be sent to the other spouse or partner for approval. The other spouse or partner has 5 days to review and approve or reject them. Include a letter knowing about this time limit with the proposed order.

3. If the other spouse or partner approves the forms as completed: He or she must sign the Findings and Order After Hearing (FL-340) and return it to the person who prepared the documents.

4. Next, the person who prepared the documents must take the signed forms to the courtroom where the case was heard.

5. As soon as possible, the clerk will review the proposed order and submit it to the judge for signing.

6. Once it is signed, the person who submitted it must make several copies of the order to distribute.

7. Then the person must take the original and all of the copies back to the court clerk to be filed. The clerk will keep the original, stamp the copies and return them to the person who submitted them.

8. Finally, the former spouse or partner who prepared the documents must serve a copy of the file-stamped copy of the order on the other spouse or partner.

If the other spouse or partner does NOT RESPOND within the time limit provided, the order may be submitted to the court with a request that the court finalize the order without the other person's approval. A copy of the letter sent to the other spouse or partner informing him or her of the time limit must be included.

If the other spouse or partner does NOT APPROVE of the order as prepared by the first spouse or partner, then he or she may want to consult with an attorney who has experience in this field.
REMEMBER: The Office of the Family Law Facilitator can help you with any part of this process if you don’t have an attorney to represent you.

A person can ask for a change in the spousal or partner support amount when there is a “change in circumstances.” For example,

  • The income of the person paying support goes down because he or she lost his or her job.
  • The income of the person receiving support increased because of a promotion at work.
  • An obligation of one of the parties to pay child support has ended.

NOTE 1:
The support amount will NOT change until someone files a motion to get a new court order. The current support order will stay in effect unless he or she asks the court to change the court order. This is true even if one of the former spouses or partners has no income, or less income.

NOTE 2:
The law only allows a judge to change a support amount for future payments, starting the date a motion to modify was filed, even if the change in circumstances happened earlier. The court is not able to lower support for the previous months. The court is not able to lower the total amount of past support that is owed.

NOTE 3
Spousal support may be modified many times, and either of the former spouses or partners can later ask the judge to change it again if the situation changes again.

If either of the former spouses or partners needs help with the paperwork, he or she can contact the Family Law Facilitator’s Office in the county where he or she lives for help.

Either former spouse or partner can ask the court to change the support amount to be paid each month if his or her circumstances change. For example, the support may be changed if a person loses his or her job, or if the medical needs of the person have changed.

NOTE: You may not need all of these forms. Or you may need more forms. If you're not sure which forms to use, talk to your Family Law Facilitator or a lawyer.

Find local court forms you may need at your county's court website.

Read "Simplified Way to Change Child, Spousal, or Family Support" (FL-391).

To ask the court to change the amount of spousal or partner support, take the following steps.

Step 1. Fill out (update) three forms:

  • Request for Order (Form FL-300)
  • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
    See the instructions for this form.

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office can answer questions about these forms and help you fill them out.

Step 2. Before you file the forms with the Court Clerk:

  • Attach a copy of the existing support order that you want to change to your Request for Order.
  • Attach a copy of your proof of income for the last two months to your financial statement (Form FL-150).
  • Make 3 copies of your completed forms with their attachments.

Step 3. File the forms at the courthouse:

  • When you are ready, take your original forms and your copies to the court clerk’s office for filing. You may need to pay another filing fee.
  • When you file your papers, the clerk will give you a hearing date so that you can make your request before the judge.

Step 4. Serve the forms:

California law requires that your former spouse or partner be given notice that you are asking for your order to be changed. To do this, have copies of all of these papers – including information about the hearing date -- served on the other spouse or partner. You must also serve the Department of Child Support Services if it is handling the case. This is called "Service of Process" and is very important.

Also have the other spouse or partner served with a blank copy of:

  • Responsive Declaration (Form FL-320).
  • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157).
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150).
Keep a copy of all of these papers for your file.
NOTE: You cannot serve your own papers. Another adult who is not involved in the case could be asked to serve the papers.
You can use either one of two types of service:
  • The forms can be served by first class mail (called "service by mail")
    OR
  • The forms can be served by personal delivery (called "personal service").
The person who actually served the papers must fill out:
  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she put the forms in the mailbox, or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she actually handed the forms to the other party.
There are time limits for service of process:
  • Generally, the forms must be served on the other spouse or partner at least 9 court working days before the hearing.
  • However, if you are receiving welfare you must disclose that fact in the Income and Expense Declaration and notify the DCSS at least 21 days before the hearing.

Step 5. File the Proof of Service form at the courthouse.

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is your proof that the service requirements have been met.
  • The other spouse or partner can file a Responsive Declaration (form FL-320) and Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150) with the court. He or she should serve a copy of these responsive papers on you.

Step 6. Finish the process:

To finish the process, the two spouses or partners are to attend the hearing that was scheduled when the application to modify the support amount was filed.

  • The date, time and location of the hearing were written on line one (1) of the filed form.
  • Bring to the hearing copies of your last year’s tax return with all attachments, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and your most recent proof of income.
  • If you are self employed, bring a profit and loss statement that shows all your income received and due to be received since your last tax return.

At the court hearing, the judge will look at the new circumstances and make a decision one way or the other about whether to modify the support amount.

If the judge decides to modify the support amount, he or she will ask the person who started this motion to prepare an "Order After Hearing". The “Order After Hearing” has to be:

  • Approved by the other spouse or partner;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on the other spouse or partner.
  • The Proof of Service has to be filed at the courthouse.

Learn how to prepare an "Order After Hearing".

REMEMBER: The Office of the Family Law Facilitator can help you with any part of this process if you don’t have an attorney to represent you.

Either former spouse or partner can ask the court to change the support amount if his or her circumstances change. For example, the support may be changed if a person loses his or her job, or if the medical needs of the person have changed.

NOTE: You may not need all of these forms. Or you may need more forms. If you're not sure which forms to use, talk to your Family Law Facilitator or a lawyer.

Find local court forms you may need at your county's court website.

Read "How to Oppose a Request fo Change Child, Spousal, or Family Support"(FL-393).

If you were served with an Order to Show Cause which asks for a modification of the spousal or partner support:

First, read all of the papers to see what exactly your former spouse or partner is asking for. The Request for Order gives you a hearing date, time, and location for you to appear in court. Then, take the following steps.

Step 1. Fill out two forms:

  • Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order (Form FL-320)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
    See the instructions for this form.

The Family Law Facilitator can answer questions about these forms and help you fill them out.

Step 2. Before you file the forms with the Court Clerk:

  • Attach a copy of your proof of income for the last two months to your financial statement (form FL-150).
  • Make 3 copies of your completed forms and their attachments.

Step 3. File the forms at the courthouse:

  • When you are ready, take your original forms and your copies to the court clerk’s office for filing.

Step 4. Serve the forms:

California law requires that your former spouse or partner be given formal notice that a "Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order" (form FL-320) has been filed with the court. The financial form should also be served. This is called Service of Process and is very important.

NOTE: You cannot serve your own papers. Another adult who is not involved in the case could be asked to serve the papers.
You can use either one of two types of service:
  • The forms can be served by first class mail (called service by mail)
    OR
  • The forms can be served by personal delivery (called personal service).
The person who actually served the papers must fill out:
  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she put the forms in the mailbox, or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she actually handed the forms to the other parent.
There are time limits for service of process:
  • Generally, the forms are to be served on the other spouse or partner at least 9 court working days before the hearing.
  • However, if you are receiving welfare you must disclose that fact in the Income and Expense Declaration and notify the DCSS at least 21 days before the hearing.

Step 5. File the Proof of Service form:

After your former spouse or partner has been notified of the Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order, the original “Proof of Service” form and at least one copy must be taken to the court clerk to be filed.

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is your proof that the service requirements have been met.

Step 6. Finish the process:

To finish the process, the two former spouses or partners must attend the hearing that was scheduled when the application was filed.

  • The date, time and location of the hearing were written on the filed form.
  • Bring to the hearing copies of your last year’s tax return with all attachments, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and your most recent proof of income.
  • If you are self employed, bring a profit and loss statement that shows all your income received and due to be received since your last tax return.

At the court hearing, the judge will look at the new circumstances and make a decision one way or the other about whether or not to modify the support amount.

If the judge decides to modify the support amount, he or she will ask the person who started this motion to prepare an “Order After Hearing.”

The “Order After Hearing” has to be:

  • Approved by you;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on you.

REMEMBER: The Office of the Family Law Facilitator can help you with any part of this process if you are not represented by an attorney.

At the end of a court hearing, the judge will make a decision about what should happen next. He or she may decide that another hearing needs to be held. Or, he or she may make the decisions needed to set up spousal or partner support. If this is the last hearing, it still is not the end of the case.