Will Alimony Increase When Child Support Ends in California?

Child support ordinarily terminates when a child turns 18 years old unless the child remains a full-time high school student. In that case, support continues until the child graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first.

If you are the spouse paying support, you may be looking forward to some financial relief once child support is over. But just how certain is this relief? Well, it depends.

What California law says about child support termination

Under California law, the termination of child support is considered a change in circumstances that can justify a modification of spousal support. In other words, unless the court has ordered differently or you have negotiated an unequivocal term regarding spousal support, spousal support can be adjusted upwards, thereby assisting the former spouse with their financial needs.

Will spousal support automatically increase when a child turns 18?

Unless agreed to otherwise, the answer is no. The termination of child support does not automatically cause an increase in spousal support. The party requesting the modification must file a motion within six months of the date that child support ends. Then, both parties will submit documentation, and the court will determine whether there should be an increase in spousal support.

In other words, the termination of child support is considered a basis for re-examining the amount of spousal support, not an automatic reason to increase.

There are some situations where spousal support can't be modified.

This is true even when child support ends. If there is a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA) or Stipulated Judgment that dictates what happens when child support terminates, the MSA or Judgment controls. If the child support you receive or pay for your child is nearing termination, you may want to file a motion to increase spousal support or be aware that your ex could be getting ready to request an increase.

To get a clear picture of the law regardless of what side you are on, you should consult with an experienced family law lawyer.

**Please note that this blog pertains to existing California law and is meant for informational purposes only. Please do not make decisions that will affect your future based on things you've read on our website. 


Founder, CEO & Certified Family Law Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Insights, Legal Insights
After over a decade of experience as a Certified Family Law Specialist, Mediator and law firm owner, Erin was fed up with the inefficient and adversarial “divorce corp” industry and set out to transform how consumers navigate divorce - starting with the legal process. By automating the court bureaucracy and integrating expert support along the way, Hello Divorce levels the playing field between spouses so that they can sort things out fairly and avoid missteps. Her access to justice work has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond, with awards and recognition from the likes of Women Founders Network, TechCrunch, Vice, Forbes, American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Leadership award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Erin lives in California with her husband and two children, and is famously terrible at board games.