Whether you are paying alimony or receiving it, there are sometimes changes in financial circumstance that requires a change in alimony payments. The courts recognize that these issues may occur and thus allow changes to spousal support in select circumstances.
What Circumstances Qualify?
In general, the change in circumstance must be both significant and beyond 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 old 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
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. 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 thus end up behind. 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.
If you or a loved one have questions about alimony please contact one of our dedicated attorneys at 480.345.2652 or online today.