If you have been ordered to make spousal support payments in a divorce proceeding, you may wonder if these orders can be modified from time to time as your circumstances, or your ex-spouse’s circumstances change. The answer is yes. Below, our spousal support attorneys take a look at some of the changes that may be considered to modify or terminate a spousal support order.
If you are considering asking the court to modify or terminate your order to pay your ex-spouse alimony, start by hiring an attorney. Ask them to check and see if the order includes a “Gravon Warning.” This is a clause that requires the person receiving support to become self-sustaining within a certain, but reasonable amount of time. They should be able to show evidence that they are moving toward the goal of being self-sufficient. If they are not making an attempt to do so, you may request an adjustment or termination of your obligation.
Changes in Income
Once a ruling is made for spousal support in a divorce case, life goes on. Things may change in your financial life, as well as your ex-spouses. You may have a major pay cut or financial downturn. Your spouse may get a huge pay raise, or another windfall. All of these are reasons that you might want to make an appeal to the court for a change.
Going Through Bankruptcy
This will not weigh in your favor when asking the court for a modification in your spousal support order. Alimony is not a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy. You can petition the court because you have a reduction in income, or a business loss, but not on the bankruptcy itself.
Your Ex-Spouse’s Disability
This is another area that calls for legal counsel. If your ex-spouse does not work, and is not trying to gain employment or become self-sufficient, you can request an independent medical evaluation. Once you’ve obtained that, the evaluation can be considered, as you bring in a vocational counselor to determine what types of employment are suitable. A person with a disability due to a back injury can, obviously, be unable to work in a warehouse, but they may be able to do other work. Claiming a general disability due to stress or depression should be verified by a physician that is a specialist in those practices.
Remarriage and Cohabitation
Typically, you will not have to continue spousal support after your spouse remarries. If they are living with someone else, or “cohabitating,” then it can be assumed that their need for supplemental income has decreased, at least. In either case, you want to make sure that you go through the court to have the order amended or removed. Don’t just assume that it’s alright to stop paying.
Make Your Appeal
If you feel a change is justified in your spousal support order, make an appeal to the court with the help of a spousal support attorney. If you adjust the amount of payment yourself, without going through the system, it may bring you trouble with the law. Make your ordered payments, until you receive and amended order.