During the divorce process, soon-to-be ex-spouses can agree on alimony payments. Their agreement usually stipulates how long one spouse will receive alimony payments, how much they will be for, and their frequency. If the two parties can’t agree on these things, a judge will make a ruling and put it in the divorce decree. Typically, the amounts and duration were determined based on what the paying spouse earned at the time and the other spouse’s needs.
However, the court recognizes that there are situations that might warrant a change in alimony payments later on. Sometimes the two parties can work this change out independently and submit it for court approval. Other times, the requesting spouse must go before the judge to request the modification because the other spouse disagrees. In that case, they will need to demonstrate that there has been a “material change in circumstances.” Not every change necessitates an alimony modification, but significant changes in either party’s income can make a modification appropriate. Here are the most common reasons for alimony modifications.
If the paying spouse is diagnosed with a severe or chronic medical condition, they may be unable to work or may need to take a lower-paying job. In this case, the alimony amount may need to be reduced or stopped altogether. On the other hand, if the spouse who receives alimony becomes ill, the amount may need to be increased.
Increased Income or a Financial Windfall
If either spouse comes into a windfall of money, no matter if it was a raise, inheritance, lottery win, or something else, spousal support amounts should be adjusted accordingly. Both spouses must be honest with the court when such a change happens and report changes in their financial circumstances.
If a receiving spouse loses their job, their alimony amount might need to be increased. If the paying spouse loses their job, the amount they owe might be decreased or discharged.
One Spouse Remarries or Co-Habitats
Suppose the receiving party gets remarried or moves in with someone else. In that case, the alimony typically ends. Family courts usually assume the new partner will provide the financial support that the receiving party requires.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
There may be other circumstances you experience that require an adjustment to your alimony payments. Everyone’s situation is different and can change at any moment. If you think that your or your ex-spouse’s financial circumstances have changed enough to necessitate a change in alimony, it’s in your best interest to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. They can review your specific circumstances to determine if a change in alimony payments will be appropriate at this time. If so, they can help you negotiate with your ex-spouse and seek court approval. If that can’t be done, they can submit the appropriate request to the judge directly for their approval, highlighting why such a change is necessary. Contact a family law attorney today to discuss your options.