Modification of Spousal Support
In re Marriage of TC and DC involved several unusual circumstances in that it was the wife who was paying spousal support. In addition, she requested a reduction in spousal support when she started earning more money.
The parties in this divorce had been married for more than eighteen years. Their judgment consisted of two agreements: The marital settlement agreement and the post judgment stipulation. Both agreements were consolidated into one agreement. The agreements stated that the husband would receive a base salary that reflected the marital standard of living. He would also receive additional spousal support based on the wife’s bonus income. At the time of the divorce, the wife received approximately $9,000 in bonus income. Several years later, her bonus income for her new job was $19,000.
The wife filed a request for order to reduce spousal support based on the fact that a change in circumstance had occurred. She argued that the increase in bonus income was a changed circumstance that should reduce spousal support. The husband disagreed. He stated that the judgment contemplated that the wife would receive an increase in bonus income and that it was contemplated that he would benefit from the increase.
The court of appeal agreed with both the husband and the wife. Because the judgment did not place a cap on the amount of bonus income that would be allowed, it appeared that the parties contemplated the fact that the wife would continue to increase her income and her bonuses. In addition, the fact that the base spousal support was sufficient to meet the marital standard of living supported the idea that the bonus income was part of the negotiated settlement. The court, however, did find that even though the parties contemplated an increase in the wife’s income, the agreement did not reflect the substantial increase that the wife received. For that reason, spousal support, based on the increase of bonus income could be capped.
If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address a dissolution issue such as spousal support or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, child support and/or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway.
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