California Family Code Section 4330
Family Code Section 4330, subdivision (a), provides that, in a judgment of marital dissolution of marriage, a court may order spousal support based on the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into consideration the circumstances stated in section 4320, which include, among others, "the extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage" ( 4320, subd. (a)); "the ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support" ( 4320, subd. (c)); the needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage" ( 4320, subd. (d)); "the duration of the marriage" ( 4320, subd. (f)); and "the goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time" ( 4320, subd. (l)).
"Except on written agreement of the parties to the contrary or a court order terminating spousal support, the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage . . . where the marriage is of long duration." ( 4336, subd. (a).) The trial court may grant a request for modification of spousal support only if there has been a material change of circumstances since the last support order. (In re Marriage of Khera and Sameer (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 1467, 1475.)
"Otherwise, dissolution cases would have no finality and unhappy former spouses could bring repeated actions for modification with no burden of showing a justification to change the order. Litigants '"are entitled to attempt, with some degree of certainty, to reorder their finances and life style in reliance upon the finality of the decree."' Absent a change of circumstances, a motion for modification is nothing more than an impermissible collateral attack on a prior final order. " (In re Marriage of Smith (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 469, 480; in accord, Khera, supra, 206 Cal.App.4th at p. 1479.)
"'A material change of circumstances may be in the form of unrealized expectations.'" (Khera, at p. 1475, quoting In re Marriage of Beust (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 24, 29.)
However, circumstances accounted for in a previous final support order cannot constitute a change of circumstances. (In re Marriage of Lautsbaugh (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1131, 1133; Khera, at p. 1476.)
"Appellate review of orders modifying spousal support is governed by an abuse of discretion standard, and such an abuse occurs when a court modifies a support order without substantial evidence of a material change of circumstances." (In re Marriage of McCann (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 978, 982-983; accord, In re Marriage of Dietz (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 387, 398 (Dietz).)