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Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce law can be a complex topic for those unfamiliar with the field. At the law firm of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, we have taken it upon ourselves to ensure that you are familiar with each issue that arises in a divorce.

Spousal Support / Alimony

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Can you change the determinations made in a divorce if circumstances change?

Can you change the determinations made in a divorce if circumstances change?

Question Detail

If someone uses the same divorce attorney and the divorce becomes final, can the terms be changed later? For instance, they said they would share custody of the children, but every time it’s my brother’s turn to have the kids for the weekend, his ex-wife comes up with a reason why she needs to keep them. Can he get custody in writing even though the divorce is already final? Also, his child and alimony payments were determined on his last two years of work. He has since lost his job and the ex-wife makes more than he does. Can you and how do you adjust the required monthly payments? He “owes” her $5000/month but doesn’t have a job. How is he supposed to pay this? Thank you for any help you can provide. Signed, a worried sister.


This is something that can be easily modified. You would need to file an Order to Show Cause to modify child custody, visitation, child support and spousal support. From there the parties would go to mediation and sit down with the mediator to discuss the current custody and timeshare plan. Your brother can then address all his concerns regarding the children at that time.

Support is calculated based on the parties’ income. He would need to submit updated proof of his income and expenses. If there has been a change of circumstances, the judge can revisit the support amounts and see if they are still the right amount to be paid. He needs to get the support modified ASAP, as he doesn’t pay arrears will build up and interest could be tacked on.

If someone in the Army gets a divorce, will they have to pay a lot of spousal support?

If someone in the Army gets a divorce, will they have to pay a lot of spousal support?

Question Detail

My friend is thinking of divorcing his wife but he is scared that she will get everything. He is in Army and she works at a factory. They got married August 14 2006. She is verbally mean and she has used weed. They have 3 cars. If he files for divorce will he have to pay her support?


The law in California allows spousal support to be awarded based on the parties’ income and certain factors the court looks at such as ability and opportunity to find work. California wants the supported spouse to become self supporting, but the Court does not want to leave one spouse with no sort of income or resources especially if the party is not employed. The military has its own laws regarding the payment of support, but these can be superseded by a Court order. Typically in the military, it is ordered that one half the BAH is given to the spouse as support. The Court looks at multiple factors that include income, standard of living during the marriage, income, age and education.

Even for a short term marriage such as yours the judge will likely award a support order but that is taking all factors into consideration. The standard in California is that support is awarded for half the length of the marriage. The longest period of time would be 2.5 years. The amount would be determined on the income of both parties.

How can I get my husband to pay half of the divorce fees?

How can I get my husband to pay half of the divorce fees?

Question Detail

My husband abandoned me after 6 months of marriage. He was abusive and cheating. I let him have all the assets (which was not much…just all the furniture and that). I am an Australian citizen still living in California. My application for residency is being processed (under VAWA). He now is residing in Georgia. All I want is a divorce and want him to pay at least half of the the divorce fees. I know it is about $400 in total, but financially I am struggling. Is there any way the court can make him pay for half the filing fees?


If you cannot afford the fees for your divorce, you can ask the court for a “fee waiver.” In order to request a fee waiver, you would fill out a form called “Request to Waive Court Fees.” This form is available both online on the court’s website and at the courthouse. Also, if you do not qualify for a fee waiver, after you file the necessary papers for your dissolution, you can request that the court order your spouse pay half of the fees for the divorce. The family law facilitator’s office in the court can help you determine your best course of action.

Is there a statute of limitations on owed child support?

Question: Is there a statute of limitations on owed child support?

Question Detail

An ex lover of mine (20 years ago) just approached me out of nowhere about getting tested to see if her son is my child. He is 20 and I live in California. I am trying to find the statue of limitations for child support if indeed I take the test and the child turns out to be mine.


Unless the mother has made a claim for child support with the welfare office or her local Department of child support services office, they cannot now collect from you on child support. Since he is no longer a minor child now that he is emancipated, there are no obligations for child support. You can get tested to see if you are the father, but you do not have to.

If the state has paid out welfare for the child, and it turns out that you are the Father, there can be some potential liability there with having to pay back the state the money they paid out. If this is not an issue, then they cannot now ask you to pay for child support.


What Is Rehabilitative Alimony?

Q: What is rehabilitative alimony?

A: Rehabilitative alimony is a type of spousal support intended to help one spouse regain his or her financial and economic footing in the wake of a divorce. Rehabilitative alimony is usually awarded until certain criteria are met, usually including re-marriage of the receiving spouse or the attainment of a suitable job. When these criteria have been met, the alimony payments are terminated.

Is alimony only paid from husband to wife?

It is true that most alimony payments are from husband to wife, simply because men are traditionally more likely to be the wage-earner in a given marriage. However, the law itself makes no distinction between genders, and simply awards alimony based on economic and financial factors. If the husband in a marriage stayed home while the wife worked, the court would order the wife to pay alimony to the husband. In other words, the imbalance between alimony paid by men and women is due to factors independent of the law.

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