Termination / Modification of Alimony

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Termination / Modification of Alimony

Courts can modify spousal and child support orders if the circumstances warrant it. Before a support order can be altered, it must be proven that circumstances have in fact changed. To determine this, courts look at a few factors, which we’ll go over here:

• The financial needs of the dependent spouse
• The degree of economic self-sufficiency of the dependent spouse, and the supporting spouse’s ability to help them maintain the same standard of living as they enjoyed during the marriage.

For a modification in child or spousal support, the change in circumstances must be due to factors beyond the spouse’s control. When making an application, the spouse has the burden of proof. They have to provide financial documents like tax returns and pay stubs, even before the other spouse is asked to provide proof of financial need. Once the applicant has showed the change in circumstances, the other spouse’s ability to pay is considered.

Some events that constitute a change in circumstances:

1. Increase in the spouse’s cost of living
2. Increase or decrease in the supporting spouse’s income
3. An illness or disability that happens after an order is given
4. The supported spouse’s living situation (loss of home)
5. The supported spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation with another person, or their subsequent employment

Provisions for modification can be outlined in the divorce agreement. Modifications can be made at predetermined times, or at any time the parties wish. It can also be agreed that there will be no modification allowed at all. When a settlement agreement says that spousal support is to be reviewed for any reason, the court will check to see if circumstances have changed, among other factors:

1. Each party’s financial means and their capability to pay
2. How long the marriage lasted
3. Age and health of both parties
4. The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and the chance for each party to maintain a comparable standard after the divorce
5. Each party’s earning capacity, education, and job skills
6. How long a stay-at-home spouse has been out of the work force
7. Who takes responsibility for the children

Where there is no review agreement, the court will rely on law to make their decision. Spousal support is meant to help a stay-at-home spouse to get on their feet, and to maintain a standard of living. Having an agreement in place will ensure timely review of a spousal support case.





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