When a couple goes through a divorce, there are many decisions to be made regarding property division, child support and alimony. Alimony or spousal support is payment made from one spouse to the other after a divorce. It’s meant to provide financial assistance to the lesser-earning spouse for a certain period of time. However, circumstances can change after a divorce and sometimes one party may need more financial assistance than what was originally agreed upon.
If you’re receiving alimony and require additional funds due to unforeseen circumstances such as job loss, illness or high living expenses, you may wonder if it’s possible to increase your alimony payments. The answer is yes, but the process isn’t always straightforward. To modify your alimony agreement, you’ll need to understand the legal requirements in your state and make a convincing case to a judge.
This guide will explore how to modify your alimony agreement including when you might consider asking for an increase, reasons why a court may grant an increase, the steps involved in modifying an order, and common obstacles you should anticipate.
“If you’ve experienced a significant change in circumstances post-divorce and find that your current alimony award does not adequately meet your needs, it’s important to know your options for relief.” -Karen Covy
Whether you’re considering asking for more alimony, or simply wondering if it’s possible, this guide will help you navigate the complex world of family law when it comes to modifying alimony agreements.
Understanding Alimony Agreements
The Definition of Alimony
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is a legal provision where one spouse provides financial assistance to the other following a divorce or separation. It is typically awarded to the lower income earner in order to maintain their standard of living after the end of the marriage.
Alimony can be provided on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the court’s decision. The amount and duration of alimony payments are determined by several factors including the length of the marriage, income disparity between spouses, and the ability of each party to earn income.
The Types of Alimony
In general, there are four types of alimony that may be awarded in a divorce case:
- Temporary Alimony: This type of alimony is given during the period immediately preceding the finalization of the divorce. Its purpose is to provide financial support to the dependent spouse until the final judgement is reached.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony is paid for a specific period of time and its main goal is to assist the receiving spouse in returning back to work or earning an education to increase their earning potential.
- Lifetime Alimony: Lifetime alimony is awarded when the dependent spouse is unlikely to become self-sufficient due to health problems or other reasons. In most cases, this kind of alimony continues until the recipient dies or remarries.
- Reimbursement Alimony: This type of alimony is meant to reimburse one spouse who supported the other throughout the course of their career or education while married.
The Factors Considered in Alimony Awards
When deciding whether to award alimony and how much, the court takes into account several factors including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, income, health, education level, and earning capacity of each spouse;
- The standard of living each spouse has become accustomed to during the marriage;
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage;
- The fault or misconduct of either spouse which contributed to the end of the marriage.
“The goal of alimony is to ensure that both parties can maintain a reasonably similar standard of living after divorce.” – Marriage.com
If you are receiving alimony payments, it may be possible to request an increase in the amount paid if there has been a significant change in your former spouse’s finances since the original order. However, this will depend on several factors including the specific terms of the original agreement, state laws, and the reasons given for the requested increase.
In general, obtaining higher alimony payments after a divorce can be difficult and requires strong legal representation to argue effectively against the other party’s opposition. To get an increase in alimony payments, the changes need to fall under certain categories such as the following:
- Job Loss: If the paying spouse lost their job, they might have trouble maintaining the agreed-upon reimbursement. The recipient spouse could pursue increased spousal support until the contributing spouse gets back on their feet again.
- New Medical Costs: When the supporting spouse starts suffering from long-term medical conditions, their expenses might rise significantly. In such instances, the dependent spouse could seek greater alimony support to help with the increased medical expenses.
- New Evidence: New information that details income disparities and living costs can affect a spousal support agreement. For instance, if new evidence shows that one spouse made significantly more than previously thought, the supporting spouse could be compelled to provide higher payments to the dependent spouse.
“When alimony is ordered or agreed upon based on a certain set of financial circumstances– say, the supporting spouse’s income at the time of divorce– the paying spouse may feel resentful or angry when they have to pay more.” -Divorce Magazine
In many cases, courts require that there should be a substantial change in either party’s circumstances before modifying an alimony award. It would also depend entirely on whether the original order was modifiable, non-modifiable or contradictory. In summary, whether alimony can increase after divorce depends on several factors, including state law, the specific terms of your original alimony agreement or order, and any changes in your financial situation or that of your former spouse.
Reasons for Increasing Alimony
Can alimony be increased after divorce? The answer is yes, under certain circumstances. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment made by one ex-spouse to the other. The amount and duration of payments are determined during the original divorce proceedings. However, sometimes situations arise that warrant an increase in alimony payments.
Change in Financial Status
A change in financial status can occur due to various reasons, such as job loss or medical expenses. If the paying spouse experiences a significant increase in income, it could be grounds for increasing alimony payments. For instance, if someone suddenly receives a promotion with a substantial raise or wins the lottery, the receiving former spouse may file for an increase in alimony.
In contrast, if the recipient experiences a significant decrease in income, they may request an increase in spousal support to help cover living expenses. In some cases, disability or serious illness can prevent a person from working, leading to reduced income. An increase in alimony ensures the recipient has adequate funds to meet their basic needs.
Change in Health Condition
If a divorced spouse experiences a health condition that significantly impacts their quality of life, they may be entitled to more alimony payments. For example, if an ex-spouse who received alimony develops a chronic condition like cancer, the court might order an increase in support to accommodate medical bills. A sudden injury or disability can also lead to an adjustment in alimony.
Federal law mandates that insurance providers allow individuals going through a divorce to keep coverage for up to 36 months after separation. After this period, terminating healthcare coverage is possible. It’s important to note that healthcare expenses can add up quickly, so if the provider’s employer doesn’t offer insurance or their policy coverage is inadequate for the ex-spouse’s needs, they may also petition for an increase in spousal support.
Change in Living Expenses
Inflation can raise living expenses. Beyond that, a rise in rent following the loss or sale of a shared marital home is another reason to request more alimony payments. In many locations, housing markets are highly competitive and fast-moving, which increases the cost of buying or renting a new residence. This can have long-term results since increased mortgage rates lead to higher monthly payments.
In addition, any changes in the law could make life more expensive or result in unforeseen expenditures – regardless of how carefully one prepares once single again. For example, there might be tax hikes, adjustments in child support laws, or an economic meltdown, triggering high inflation and unemployment rates.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
Increasing alimony payments mainly relies on significant changes that happen after divorce. All in all, different circumstances necessitate an adjustment in alimony payment, like a change in financial status, health condition, and basic needs expenses. When faced with these situations, spouses have the right to submit a motion in court requesting an alteration in payments agreed upon during the divorce process.
How to Modify Your Alimony Agreement
If you have been paying or receiving alimony after a divorce, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to increase the amount of money you are receiving or decrease the amount you must pay. The answer is that yes, it is possible to modify your alimony agreement—but there are certain steps that you need to take.
Gather Evidence of Financial Change
The first step in modifying an alimony agreement is providing evidence to the court that your financial circumstances have changed significantly since the original agreement was made. This can include things like losing a job, having a significant change in income, becoming disabled, or experiencing unexpected expenses such as medical bills.
You will need to provide documentation to support your claims, such as bank statements, tax returns, and proof of new expenses. It’s important to keep track of any changes in your finances as they happen so you have up-to-date information if you decide to file for modification.
File a Motion to Modify Alimony
Once you have gathered sufficient evidence of changed circumstances, the next step is to file a motion with the court to modify your alimony agreement. This involves filling out paperwork detailing the reasons why you believe a change is necessary and providing supporting documentation.
You should consult with a lawyer before filing a motion to ensure that everything is done correctly and nothing is missed. A lawyer can also help you understand what to expect during the process and advise you on how to prepare for the hearing.
Attend a Hearing with the Court
After your motion has been filed, you will need to attend a hearing with the court to present your case. This hearing will typically involve both parties presenting their arguments and evidence to a judge, who will then make a decision about whether to modify the alimony agreement or not.
It’s important to be well-prepared for this hearing, as it can have significant consequences for both parties. This includes making sure you have all necessary documentation and evidence organized, knowing what points you want to make during your argument, and being able to respond effectively to any questions or challenges from the other party or the judge.
“The burden is on the person seeking modification to demonstrate that a substantial change in financial circumstances has occurred since the original order was made… The changed circumstances must involve something beyond ordinary fluctuations in income or expenses.” -Forbes
Keep in mind that modifying an alimony agreement can be a complicated and emotional process. It’s important to approach it with patience, persistence, and a clear understanding of the legal requirements and implications involved.
Challenging Alimony Modifications
Alimony is a court-ordered payment that one spouse pays to another after a divorce. This payment is meant to provide financial assistance to the lower-income earning ex-spouse. When deciding on alimony, courts consider factors such as each spouse’s income, their ability to earn an income, and how long they were married. However, there are instances when either party may need to challenge alimony modifications.
Provide Evidence of No Change in Financial Status
If you are being asked to pay higher alimony payments or your ex-spouse wants increased support, you should present evidence that supports or denies their claim for modification. Of course, if you have lost your high-paying job or suffered from illness or disability, then it is primarily unfair that you can not afford the same amount of paid alimony as earlier. By submitting all relevant financial records, tax returns over time, pay stubs, bank statements, rental payments, property taxes, medical reports, etc., you can show with substantial proof that your finances did not change significantly since the initial court order was made. The same applies to if your ex-spouse has won the lottery, received inheritance or gotten a better-paying job; their financial status has improved, and therefore, there is no reason to support their request for changes in alimony payments.
Show Evidence of Fraud or Misrepresentation
If there is any suspicion that your ex-spouse lied about their financial situation at the time of the original decision, regulations have been taken fraudulently or manipulated assets, the court will revisit your case. Some ways that an ex-spouse may commit fraud include hiding assets during the divorce process, creating fake debts or losses, transferring ownership of businesses, committing identity theft or forgeries regarding finance documents, or having unreported income. You can then ask for legal intervention by collecting evidence such as transactions receipts, correspondence or emails that reveal hidden financial assets to prove the fraud and get yourself out of being obligated to pay higher alimony.
Argue Against Unjust or Inequitable Modification
You have a right to appeal if you think the proposed Alimony modification is unjust. Suppose you believe there has been an injustice done, or it’s keeping you from improving your position post-divorce. In that case, you must show how the change in circumstances would be unfair either financially or emotionally challenging. For example, did you relocate for work under specific agreements and now have to uproot again because of payment changes? Do you have significant ways of reducing personal costs without noticing any change in payment policy?. Challenging based on equity demands proof. Therefore, prepare strong arguments backed with proper documentation, which essentially proves that the modification is an abuse of discretion or breaches the Final Judgment of Divorce specifications, making it necessary for the request to be denied.
“We all make mistakes. Sentimentality creeps in, people lose objectivity, cold-bloodedness and honesty.” -Anthony HoldenIn conclusion, divorce is a complicated process that involves several financial decisions before partners going their separate ways. However, issues may arise later concerning alimony payments due to unforeseen events that cause current financial difficulty. If you feel like alimony modifications are an extra burden on your shoulders, it’s crucial to investigate instances where challenges could apply. Evidence supporting reasons why modifying just feels disadvantaging needs application during such moments, through legal and professional consultation.
Consulting with an Attorney About Alimony Modifications
If you are currently receiving alimony payments after your divorce, you may be wondering if it is possible to increase the amount you receive. The good news is that in some cases, alimony can be modified after the divorce has been finalized. However, navigating the legal process of modifying alimony payments can be complicated and stressful. That’s why it’s important to consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in family law.
Assessing Your Legal Rights and Options
When considering whether to pursue a modification in alimony payments, it’s important to first assess your legal rights and options. Every state has its own laws regarding alimony, but typically, a party seeking a modification must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since the original order was issued. This could include factors such as job loss, illness, or disability.
Your attorney can review your original divorce decree and help you determine whether there is a strong enough case for a modification. They can also advise you on how to proceed with filing the paperwork required for the process.
Exploring the Pros and Cons of Alimony Modification
Increased financial stability: If you’re struggling to make ends meet, an increase in alimony payments can provide much-needed relief.
Future protection: If your financial situation worsens further down the line, having a higher alimony payment will mean more security moving forward.
Better retirement planning: With a more robust income stream from alimony, you’ll have greater flexibility when planning for retirement.
Potential legal battle: The process of modifying alimony can involve a court hearing, which could be costly and emotionally draining.
Damage to the relationship with your ex-spouse: Going through the process of modifying alimony might create tension between you and your former spouse. This is especially true if they are opposed to the modification.
No guarantee of success: Just because you file for a modification doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be approved. It’s important to keep this in mind when considering whether to pursue the process.
“Alimony modification requests should not be made lightly,” warns attorney Edward A. Haman. “Courts generally do not like reopening cases or changing prior orders unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances.”
If you’re considering pursuing a modification in alimony payments, it’s important to weigh these pros and cons carefully with the guidance of an attorney. They can help you assess your chances of success, prepare documentation for the court, and advise you on how to navigate any legal challenges that may arise along the way. With their support, you’ll be better equipped to ensure your financial stability both now and in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can alimony be increased after divorce due to a change in financial circumstances?
Yes, alimony can be increased after divorce due to a change in financial circumstances. If the payer’s income increases significantly or the recipient’s financial needs increase, the court may modify the alimony order.
What factors are considered when determining whether to increase alimony after divorce?
The court considers several factors, including the recipient’s financial needs, the payer’s ability to pay, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and any other relevant circumstances that may affect the recipient’s financial situation.
Is a court order necessary to increase alimony after divorce?
Yes, a court order is necessary to increase alimony after divorce. The parties can agree to modify the alimony order outside of court, but the agreement must be approved by the court to be enforceable.
What steps can be taken to negotiate an increase in alimony after divorce?
The parties can negotiate a modification of the alimony order outside of court through mediation or by hiring attorneys to advocate on their behalf. If an agreement is reached, it must be approved by the court to be enforceable.
Can alimony be increased after divorce if the recipient remarries or cohabits with a new partner?
It depends on the specific terms of the alimony order. Some alimony orders terminate upon the recipient’s remarriage or cohabitation, while others may allow for a modification of the amount or duration of the alimony payments. It is important to review the terms of the original order and consult with an attorney before seeking a modification.