Make Sure Your Divorce Papers Include An Alimony Modification Provision

If you are going through a divorce, you are probably stressed and emotional. Even if you and your spouse are currently being civil and agreeing to the different aspects of the agreement, that can change quickly. If there will be spousal support involved, you need to have all the details of the payments included in the paperwork. This includes having a provision for when, how, and how much the alimony can be changed. If you skip this, one of you may be in for a big surprise at some point in the future.

Duration of Payments

One of the aspects of alimony that can change is the duration of payments. It should be stipulated exactly how long one of you needs to help support the other. Of course, there should be circumstances that can change this, such as the receiver remarrying. While that is a common reason for stopping alimony, what if the receiver cohabitates with someone, thereby lessening his or her living expenses? You can ask to have any payments terminated as long as your ex is living with someone else. Of course, if there is a breakup, the payments will be reinstated.

Increasing the Amount

Unlike child support, increasing the amount of alimony is usually not dependent on the amount of money the payer makes. In other words, just because your spouse gets a raise in salary, do not count on getting more alimony. However, if you have a modification provision that lists a significant pay increase as a reason for an increase in spousal support, you can petition the court for the additional money. This provision should be included if you supported your spouse for a long time while he or she attended school or was getting a business going and now will be making more money due to your initial support. A higher amount of support may also be warranted if the payee becomes ill or disabled and is not capable of working or earning the amount he or she was making during the marriage and divorce.

Reducing the Amount

You cannot quit your job to get out of paying spousal support. However, if there is some legitimate reason, no fault of your own, that your income is significantly reduced, you may petition the court to reduce the amount you have to pay. This could be due to a layoff at work, a business venture that takes a dive in profits, or your own illness or disability.

While some of these circumstances may be normal ways to terminate, increase, or reduce alimony payments, it is best to have this all detailed in the divorce decree so the decision for any modification does not rest solely with the court. This way, you both know what to expect. It can keep things civil down the road when there is a problem and one of you needs to make a change the other one does not agree to. Talk to a lawyer from a law firm like Hackworth Law for more information and advice.