Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment made after a divorce to provide financial support to a spouse who may have earned less in the marriage due to taking care of children. Spousal support is not the same as child support. Child support can be modifiable for many different reasons. Often, the divorce negotiations can include spousal support and the terms for modifications. Child support is not limited by your own negotiations. Here’s what to know about modifications for spousal support.
What Does Your Divorce Decree State?
Before modifying alimony, you should check what the limits are in your divorce. In some cases, both spouses have to agree to a modification or there are certain times when a modification could be made. You should also check your state laws. If you and your ex-spouse agree to a modification, that’s great. You should still file the agreement with the court to make sure that is enforceable.
Common Reasons Alimony Modifications Are Made
Beyond an agreement between former spouses to modify alimony, there are other reasons the court might approve higher or lower spousal support payments.
- Cost of Living Adjustment: In most cases, a COLA clause must be included in your original settlement for this modification to occur.
- Escalator Clause: An escalator clause gives the recipient of spousal support an automatic raise when the payor gets an increase in earnings. This, too, should be negotiated as part of the original settlement, as it is very difficult to approve following a divorce.
- Change of Circumstance: A change of circumstance may apply to changes in state law or in the particular circumstances of the payee or payor. If the payor loses a job or takes a significant reduction in pay, the court may modify support. If the payee has a change in circumstance, such as a substantial change in income after graduating from a college program and taking a new job, the court may modify support downward. A financial emergency or change in disability status may also indicate the need for modification.
Spousal Support Modifications Are Subject to Local Laws
Some states don’t allow any modifications of spousal support upward, only downward. Once your divorce is final, your spousal support order may not be changed by the court. It depends on your state laws. Talk to a divorce lawyer, like a divorce lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel J Wright, about spousal support and what you can do to modify it in your jurisdiction.