Alimony is awarded when the court is convinced there is a need for spousal support following a divorce. It’s often a highly contentious issue, so most couples hope to never revisit the conflict once everything is settled.
An alimony award can be permanent or temporary. However, depending on the type of alimony awarded during divorce, the court may consider modification under certain circumstances.
What circumstances can lead to alimony modifications?
Before the court can open up a previously awarded alimony for potential review and modification, you must justify the modification request by demonstrating a “substantial change in your circumstances.”
To qualify, you have to convince the court that you did not anticipate the change in circumstances when the initial alimony was awarded. You must also show that your change in circumstances must be permanent and involuntary.
Some potential grounds for modifying alimony include:
- Serious health changes that may render the paying party unproductive
- Involuntary termination from employment
- When one party dies
- When the spouse receiving alimony is convicted of fraud in relation to spousal support
- When there are changes to a medical insurance policy
- When the paying spouse retires
- When the recipient gets into another marital relationship
In other words: The court needs to see a very significant shift in the circumstances of whichever party makes the modification request before they will consider changes.
What does not amount to a substantial change in circumstances?
Certain developments never warrant alimony modifications. For instance, the paying spouse cannot deliberately quit their job and then claim they can no longer pay alimony. Similarly, the receiving spouse can’t quit their job and then demand more alimony to cover their expenses.
Modifying an alimony arrangement can be a complex and technical process. Understanding what does or does not amount to a justification for an alimony modification can help you make the right decisions with your interest at heart.