The parties in a divorce or the court set out how much spousal support will be based on the circumstances at the time they make that decision. However, things do change, and those changes may warrant a modification of spousal support.
To obtain a spousal support modification, the party requesting the change must show that there has been a “material change in circumstances.” When one party requests a change, the court will go through a similar analysis to what it did when spousal support was initially awarded. These factors may include:
- The earning capacity of each party
- The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support
- The supported party’s marketable skills
- The needs of each party in reference to their prior standard of living
- The financial obligations and assets of each party
- The length of the marriage
Not every life change will warrant a change in spousal support. However, certain changes can increase or decrease the amount of spousal support that is appropriate for your situation. The following are situations that would likely warrant a spousal support modification:
You Develop a Chronic Medical Condition
If you develop a chronic medical condition and become unable to work, a change of spousal support may be necessary. If you were already receiving support, the amount might need to be increased. If you were previously providing support, then the amount may need to be decreased or stopped altogether.
Your Former Spouse Gets a Better Job or Comes Into Money
If you are paying support, the amount can be decreased if your former spouse gets a better job or suddenly has a higher income. A decrease may also be warranted if your former spouse comes into money, such as through inheritance or winning the lottery.
You Lose Your Job
A sudden loss of income, such as by losing your job, may warrant a decrease in spousal support if you are paying support. If you are receiving support, it may justify an increase in support. Usually, a job loss must put you out of work for a significant amount of time to trigger a decrease in spousal support, but not always. If you retire, that may have an effect on the amount of spousal support you pay as well.
Your Former Spouse Remarries or is Cohabitating with Someone
Another marriage will often have an effect on whether your former spouse can support him or herself. If your spouse remarries, the court will often assume that the new spouse can help provide support to your former spouse. The same is often true of cohabitation relationships as well. If you discover that your former spouse is living with someone else, that may be enough to lower your spousal support payments.
Spousal support modification may seem daunting, but having the right family law attorney on your side can increase your chances of obtaining a favorable result regarding spousal support—whether you would like it increased or decreased. Call the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer, PLC for more information.