In general, an ex-husband or an ex-wife may request a modification or termination of spousal support if there has been a “change in circumstances” since the previous spousal support order was made. The most common changes in circumstances include remarriage by the supported spouse or a significant reduction in income of the supporting spouse.
While remarriage is almost always considered to be a change in circumstance significant enough to terminate any spousal support order, an atypical case in August 2012 held otherwise. In that case, the California Court of Appeal held that an ex-husband must continue paying spousal support to his ex-wife, even though his ex-wife had “re-married.” The catch: the ex-wife never obtained a California marriage license with her new fiancé. Although the ex-wife and her fiancé threw a big wedding and had a rabbi officiate the ceremony, the court found that the couple never officially married and, without an official marriage license, the ex-husband had no grounds to terminate his spousal support payments.
The court found that the ex-husband did not provide sufficient evidence to show that he qualified for a termination of spousal support since the ex-wife had not actually remarried and the ex-husband’s income had not decreased significantly. Although the court refused to terminate spousal support, the court did find that there was reason to modify spousal support. The court reasoned that, since the ex-wife was partially supported by her fiancé, the ex-husband did not need to provide the amount of support previously ordered prior to the ex-wife moving in with her fiancé.
The amount of spousal support Ms. Eastwood will receive depends on the factors listed above. The courts will certainly consider the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Eastwood were in a long term marriage of 17 years and that the earning capacity of each party, especially Mr. Eastwood, is quite substantial.
Determining spousal support is a fact driven process. For more information on spousal support, consult an experienced attorney.