There are different legal standards if the matter is still pending (“temporary SS”) verses a final judgment has been entered (“permanent SS”).

Establishing an initial spousal support order is a lower threshold – it is designed to maintain the status quo while the parties go through the dissolution process.  The baseline is the need of the supported spouse and the ability to pay by the payor spouse.  The court may use the Xspouse or Dissomaster calculator (designed for child support) to calculate temporary spousal support.

A temporary spousal support order may be modified if the need of the recipient or the ability to pay by the payor change – i.e. Payor was furloughed due to Covid19.

Also, any order can only be modified retroactive to the date of filing so it is important that if something changes the party seeking the modification act quickly. (See also Emergency Rule 13 that was passed during the lockdown).

The court may again use the calculator to establish spousal support amount.

A modification to the permanent spousal support order is a higher standard because a judgment has been entered.  The change of circumstances must be significant and the court must analyze the request using the Family Law Code section 4320 factors – i.e. length of marriage, any domestic violence, age and health of parties, needs of both parties, ability to pay, contribution to career position of the supporting party, effect household obligations had on earning capacity of the supported spouse during the marriage. They cannot rely on the support calculators and must exercise its discretion in weighing the factors.


At Loeser Law we can help you with determining temporary and permanent spousal support.

Call us at 949-392-5050