Whether you are paying alimony or receiving it, there can be a change in a financial circumstance that requires a modification in alimony payments. These changes can vary from losing a job to health issues, but it’s important to know that you can change the alimony amount over time. The courts recognize that these issues may occur and thus allow changes to be made to spousal support in select circumstances. However, how do these changes occur and what do you need to do to ensure they are changed? Our family law firm can absolutely help you modify court orders and further understand alimony to ensure you are paying the right amount. If you have questions about modifying court orders or paying the correct alimony, contact us today.
What Circumstances Qualify?
In general, a change in your circumstances must be both significant and beyond your (the petitioner’s) control. This may be that the person receiving alimony has remarried and thus has a new spouse to contribute to their support.
Alternately, the person who pays alimony may have suffered a loss of income and is unable to earn their former income despite good faith attempts. If both ex-spouses agree, they can write up an agreement and the courts will likely sign it, creating a new court order that nullifies the previous one. If both parties do not agree, then the person who wants the alimony change will need to petition the courts for a modification of spousal support and defend their request.
When to Ask for a Modification
If you are the one who would like to modify the court order, then it is important to ask for a new court order as soon as possible. A verbal or written agreement with the other party is not enough to modify a court order in itself. Many people decide to wait because they think their change in circumstance is temporary or they are too stressed out and busy to file a petition. However, this is rarely a good idea. It’s best to address the issue as quickly as possible. Never wait until you have fallen behind and are in contempt of a court order.
Can Alimony Be Changed Retroactively?
The amount of spousal support cannot be changed until a new court order is reached. This may take a while, during which time paying the old spousal support order will be a challenge. Many people fall behind on alimony because they wait to petition the courts, and they end up behind as a result. Falling behind on alimony has serious legal and financial repercussions.
Judges cannot change support orders retroactively, but rather from the date that the petition is filed. It is important to see a family law attorney and handle changes in circumstances as expediently as possible.