Alimony, or spousal support as it’s sometimes called, is a provision given to an ex-spouse after a marriage has dissolved. State laws vary, but generally, alimony is given for a specified time frame to help the ex-spouse get their financial bearings after a divorce. To modify an alimony support order, it generally takes a significant change of circumstances.
What Does an Alimony Modification Look Like?
An alimony modification could be made to lower the payments for a spouse who is making them. This would typically occur if there was a job loss or other temporary hardship, such as illness. Sometimes, the court may reduce an alimony payment if the payor has a financial emergency, such as a medical emergency. The payor might also request a reduction of the payment if the payee has a significant increase in income.
The payee might request an increase of alimony in certain cases. If the spouse receiving alimony has a significant change of circumstances, such as becoming disabled or having a financial emergency, he or she can request a modification. If the payor has an increase of income, the payee may also request a modification.
Another common reason for a modification is Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA). Many alimony agreements have COLA built into the original decree. At the first of the year, the alimony payment automatically adjusts to the annual cost-of-living. Having this clause prevents the need to go to court for adjustments every year.
If there was fraud or one spouse took advantage of the other when the first order was made, the court may review the order. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to modify spousal support because the agreement is intended to be final.
Do You Have to Go to Court?
If you and your former spouse can agree to a modification, it doesn’t necessarily need the court’s approval. However, if one spouse doesn’t follow the agreement, you can’t use the court to enforce the agreement. If a medication is made to the agreement, it is recommended that you protect yourself by having the order signed by a judge.
If the two parties cannot agree on the modification outside of court, either party may request the judge to review the case. However, alimony orders are generally more limited than child support. It often takes a much greater change in circumstances to get a modification of alimony than it does for child support.
Modifying a spousal support order can be complicated. You may want to talk to divorce lawyers in Rockville, MD about your situation and to get advice on the law in your state.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and how to modify your alimony support payment.