You need more money. He doesn’t want to pay.
She believes you need to work more, not live off her money. You do work and believe asking for a modification is fair.
Whatever side of the alimony modification issue you’re on, you need to know it isn’t a simple issue for the courts. Alimony, also called spousal support, is regular payments made during a separation or after a divorce from one spouse to another. Two purposes for alimony are to:
- Recognize the contribution the spouse receiving support made during the marriage
- Help the spouse achieve financial independence during the marriage or after the separation
Spousal Support Modification
A modification is a decrease or increase in alimony payments. The modification can be temporary or permanent. When the modification is temporary, the payment will revert back to the original payments after a certain time frame.
The easiest way to obtain an alimony modification is out of court. This is done when both ex-spouses agree to modify terms of the support payments. Is it legally binding? It depends. Legally binding means the agreement is enforceable by law. When one party doesn’t fulfill the terms of the agreement, the other party can sue in court.
For example, an agreement is made between spouses. She later refuses to pay her ex-spouse the new amount. If their modification agreement was signed by a judge, then her ex could request the judge order her to pay the increase in support. The agreement would be legally binding. Thus, the judge would most likely order her to make the new payments.
The alimony modification is valid whether or not a judge signs it or not. However, the agreement is only legally binding and therefore enforceable if a judge signs it.
When Ex-Spouses Don’t Agree, the Court Looks at Several Factors
Generally, alimony can only be modified by the court based on a change in circumstances. The party wanting the decrease or increase in spousal support payments must file a motion with the original court that made the alimony order. Within the motion, the ex-spouse must show a need for the change. For instance, there could be a change in alimony law which permits the ex to obtain an increase or decrease.
Modification of alimony can occur when certain factors are involved such as:
- Loss of employment
- Medical emergency
- Disability which changes his ability to earn a living
- Decrease in income
A payor, or ex-spouse paying alimony, can request a modification decrease if his ex begins cohabitating with someone else. The payments may even be stopped altogether if she moves in an apartment with a new partner. Other factors in decreasing alimony include:
- New support obligations: If the payor remarries and has children, it can reduce the amount of alimony paid to the previous spouse. This is looked at as hardship because the new obligation may hinder her meeting other financial obligations.
- Disability: The payor becomes disabled and no longer able to pay alimony, it may be able to meet financial obligations.
- Change in the law: If a new state law allows a payor to obtain a decrease modification, she may do so.
- Financial emergency: A financial emergency such as a large bill or unexpected circumstance, may require a decrease modification.
Alimony laws differ from state to state. It’s important to understand alimony laws prior to petitioning the court for a decrease or increase.
Authored by Taelonnda Sewell, LegalMatch Legal Writer