December 21, 2023 In Divorce

Spousal Support Considerations: Job Loss and Medical Conditions During Divorce

In the context of a divorce in California, the issue of spousal support is a critical one. A particularly challenging situation arises when, after separation but before the divorce is finalized, one party loses their job and is unable to work due to a medical condition. This change in circumstances can significantly impact the calculation and allocation of spousal support. Here, we will explore how such situations are typically addressed in California family law.

1. Job Loss Impact on Spousal Support:

  • Immediate Financial Change: The loss of a job for the spouse responsible for paying support (the payor) can lead to an immediate and significant change in their financial situation.

Example: Let’s consider Mark, who has been paying spousal support to his soon-to-be ex-wife, Lisa. If Mark loses his job, his ability to continue paying the agreed amount is compromised.

  • Seeking Modification of Support Orders: The payor can file a motion in court to modify the spousal support order. This motion must provide evidence of the change in circumstances, such as job termination notices and financial statements showing the current income status.

Example: Mark can file for a modification of the spousal support order, explaining his job loss and providing relevant financial details.

2. Medical Conditions and Inability to Work:

  • Decreased Earning Capacity: If the payor spouse develops a medical condition that prevents them from working, this significantly affects their earning capacity and, in turn, their ability to pay spousal support.

Example: If Lisa, who is receiving support, falls ill and cannot work, she may request an increase in spousal support, citing her decreased earning capacity and increased medical expenses.

  • Court Consideration for Modification: The court considers several factors when deciding on such modifications, including the severity of the medical condition, the expected duration of the inability to work, and the existing financial obligations of both parties.

Example: The court will evaluate Lisa’s medical reports, her previous income, and Mark’s financial ability to pay increased support.

3. Temporary vs. Permanent Modifications:

  • Nature of Change: Depending on whether the job loss or medical condition is temporary or permanent, the spousal support modification can also be temporary or permanent.

Example: If Mark’s job loss is deemed temporary, the court might order a temporary reduction in spousal support until he finds new employment.

4. Mutual Agreements on Support Adjustments:

  • Out-of-Court Agreements: In some cases, both parties might agree to a temporary adjustment of spousal support without going to court.

Example: Lisa and Mark could agree that Mark will pay a reduced amount of spousal support for a certain period while he seeks new employment

5. Legal Advice and Representation:

  • Seek Professional Guidance: Given the complexities involved in modifying spousal support due to job loss or medical conditions, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help navigate the legal process and ensure that any modifications are fair and in line with California law.


The loss of a job or the onset of a medical condition after separation but before the finalization of a divorce can substantially impact spousal support arrangements. It’s crucial to address these changes legally and promptly to ensure that support orders remain fair and reflective of the current situation.

For those needing legal assistance in modifying spousal support under such circumstances, The Mines Law Firm is prepared to provide expert legal guidance and representation.


Disclaimer: This flyer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific legal guidance on your case, please contact The Mines Law Firm for representation.