No one wants to pay spousal support forever or for much longer than is necessary. But whether you can change your support payment may depend on how it was established in the first place. If spousal support was ordered by the Court after a trial, or if it was set in a final judgment of divorce without a separate marital settlement agreement, you may be able to get a modification based on a change of circumstances, effectively reducing or terminating your payments.
If, on the other hand, spousal support was agreed to in a separate marital settlement agreement, and that agreement is not modifiable by the court, you may not be able to change the level of support unless you and your former spouse can agree to a modification. Keep in mind that even if you can successfully reach an agreement with your former spouse, you will still need to go through the right legal channels to ensure these changes are enforceable.
Modifying Spousal Support
Former spouses cannot always see eye-to-eye on such matters. Under these circumstances, you must take the issue to court if your spousal support order is one that the court can modify. When requesting a modification of spousal support, you must prove that there was a significant change in either party’s financial situation. If the change is minor, it is unlikely a judge will grant your request. For example, if your former spouse received a minor cost of living adjustment in pay, it is unlikely this minor change will warrant a modification of spousal support.
Below are some examples of a substantial change in circumstances, which might lead to a reduction or termination of the spousal support order:
- You involuntarily lost your job, or you were involuntarily demoted, resulting in a pay cut. If the loss of your job or demotion was voluntary, your obligations will remain the same. A judge will not reward you for attempting to avoid paying spousal support.
- You developed a disability or illness that prevents you from working.
- Your former spouse remarried or lives with a new romantic partner. If your former spouse remarries, it will automatically trigger the termination of your spousal support order. If your former spouse cohabitates with a new romantic partner, your spousal support will not automatically terminate, but your request to terminate it or reduce it will likely be successful.
- Your former spouse’s income substantially increased, lessening the need for spousal support.
If you are unable to keep up with your spousal support payments due to a change in your financial circumstances, you must discuss the matter with your former spouse or take the issue to court. If you stop paying altogether, you will still be responsible for the missed payments, so do not hesitate to take proper legal action.
Contact One of Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys Today!
If you believe your spousal support payments should be modified, you need to retain skilled legal counsel to help you navigate the steps of this complex process. At McIntyre Tate LLP, our family law attorneys are experienced in handling post-divorce modifications and will do what it takes to ensure your spousal support order is reduced or terminated, depending on your circumstances. Backed by more than 150 years of collective experience, you can trust that you will receive exceptional representation when you choose to work with us.
Contact our law office today at (401) 351-7700 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team.