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Child Support Termination Constitutes Change in Circumstance to Modify Spousal Support

II.  New Legislation Explained    (Reprinted from the State Bar Website)

Flexcom Sponsored AB 414 Reenacts Section 4326 As Urgency Legislation

And Fixes the Gap so No One Falls Between the Cracks

By Michele B. Brown, CFLS

On August 15, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB 414 (Fox) into law.  AB 414 is the bill Flexcom sponsored to re-enact Family Code section 4326, which expired on December 31, 2013.  AB 414 was enacted as urgency legislation, which means the statute takes effect immediately. As such, effective August 15, 2014, Family Code section 4326 is once again the law in the state of California. [1]

Section 4326 holds a termination of a child support order under Section 3901 constitutes the required change of circumstances for either party to file a motion for a modification of spousal support, so long as said motion is filed within six months of the child support order terminating. [2]

To ensure the parties whose six-month deadline to file an RFO under section 4326 were not prejudiced by the lapse in time to re-enact section 4326, Flexcom ensured a provision was placed into the statute to capture this group of litigants.  The statute has a provision permitting those parties whose six month deadline expired between January 1, 2014 and September 30, 2014, to file their 4326 motion until December 31, 2014.

Given the urgency clause associated with this legislation, FLEXCOM wanted to alert Family Law Section members to the immediate change.  Additionally, the officers of FLEXCOM wish to salute the members of its Affirmative and Developing Legislation team for all their hard work in getting this bill through to enactment.  From discovering the sunset provision to helping shepherd the bill through the Legislature, the team's hard work demonstrated the benefits of Section legislative advocacy.  FLEXCOM will provide additional updates on the outcome of the 2014 legislative session in the coming months. 

1. On 01.01.2014, the law reverted back to case law on this issue, which under Marriage of Lautsbaugh (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1131, held that a termination of child support is not a change of circumstances to modify spousal support.

2. The bill also permits either party to request the appointment of a vocational evaluation counselor under Section 4331 if a motion is filed pursuant to this section and provides circumstances Section 4326 would not apply, such as in stipulated judgments, settlement agreements or orders where spousal support has been waived, is non-modifiable or jurisdiction has already been terminated.

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