Can You Change Your Alimony Agreement?

Spousal support is granted during a divorce to help one spouse get established. It used to be known as alimony, but the general idea is the same. Spousal support simply carries a less negative connotation. Spousal support is separate from child support. Generally, the spouse only gets spousal support for a limited time, unlike child support which is granted until the child turns 18 or even older. Modifying spousal support can be difficult. In most states, it takes a substantial change in circumstances for a judge to consider revisiting spousal support. Here are some common reasons that spousal support may need to be modified.

Former Spouses Agree to a Modification

If you and your ex-spouse can agree to a change in alimony, you can certainly do so. It is a good idea to get the court’s approval because, without it, you can’t enforce the new agreement. Work out the change with your ex-spouse and have a judge sign off on it.

Cost of Living Adjustments

Every year, the cost of living increases. Generally speaking, to get alimony modification that increases your payment based on the cost of living, you must have it written into your original divorce decree. You can go back to the court to ask for this increase.

Escalator Clause

You can put a clause in your original divorce decree that the recipient of spousal support receives an increase when the payor receives an increase in earnings. This is similar to the cost of living increase, but it only happens when the payor gets a cost of living raise.

Change of Circumstances

The most common reason to change alimony is due to a significant change in circumstances of either spouse. If the payor gets laid off or fired, he or she may request that the court decrease support. If the payee gets an inheritance or has an increase in income, the payor may also request that support be decreased.

Conversely, if the person receiving the payments can show that the person making payments received a substantial increase in income, the payee may request an increase in support. Another situation might be when a former spouse moves in with another partner. The payor may be able to show that support is no longer needed. Financial emergencies or disabilities in either spouse could also be a reason for modification.

Many changes in circumstances can occur after a divorce. It is a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney, like a divorce attorney in Tampa, FL, who can help you navigate the process to find the best solution for you.

Thanks to The McKinney Law Group for their insight into some of the reasons someone might have to change his or her alimony agreement.