Modification of Alimony / Spousal Support

Major changes in your life or the life of your former spouse can result in a court-ordered modification of alimony  in your divorce agreement. In many cases, a modification of alimony is due to the spouse’s diminishing ability to pay spousal support, but there can be other causes as well. These reasons could include changes to state marriage laws and the remarriage of either you or your former spouse.

If you anticipate an upcoming change that could affect your alimony agreement, doing some advance research can help you prepare for the process.

Common Reasons for Changes to Alimony

  1. Financial Change – modification of alimony is usually done as a result of a financial change, for better or worse. For example, if your former spouse loses their job, they may petition the court to have the alimony payments reduced. If you earn a large promotion and have a greater influx of cash, the court may also rule to decrease alimony payments. Retirement can also lead to a reduction of alimony payments.
  2. Health Change – Situations relating to health can also impact alimony. A disability that prevents someone from working may give cause to petition for a reduction in alimony payments. A serious illness that causes major medical bills can also affect the alimony agreement.
  3. Lifestyle Change – Finally, a lifestyle change can cause an alimony adjustment. Remarriage by the recipient often gives cause for the termination of alimony payments. In some jurisdictions, simply cohabiting with a new partner may also cause the end of the alimony agreement.

How to Get a Modification of Alimony

If you want to change the alimony that you receive or pay, consult your divorce agreement to begin. Some divorce agreements outline how alimony can be modified. You can also discuss the matter with your ex-spouse to see if any changing circumstances in their life may warrant a change to spousal support. Forming an agreement with your former spouse can prevent a lengthy court battle.

Petitions to make a change to alimony can be made by you or your former spouse at any time, but some courts may decline to hear a petition if another petition was recently filed. When the court listens to the petition, the judge will look at the changing circumstance to decide if the change is large enough to warrant modification to the alimony payments. The petitioner will need to present a strong case in order to persuade the court. This will require extensive documentation, potentially including tax records and bank statements. Witnesses can also be summoned to provide information to the court.

The best case scenario is when all parties agree to the change in alimony payments, then no further legal action is usually required. However, if there is disagreement, the dispute may end up going to trial. In that case, both the payer and the receiver may need to seek legal assistance from an attorney. If you need advice on getting modification of alimony, please contact us today.

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