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What If You Need More Alimony From Your Spouse?

Even after a divorce is finalized, child support or alimony may be modified at a later time, depending on the financial circumstances of the spouse paying alimony, also called the obligor. However, one thing to note in divorce cases is that once property has been divided and the divorce has been finalized, there is no way to get the property modified. Therefore, the distinction between alimony and property is very important.

It is also very important that the court order is drafted properly for future alimony. A poorly drafted court order will only create problems later on, especially if it is not clear for how long the alimony has to be paid. Post-separation support also needs to be incorporated into the court order for it to be modified at a later stage. If it is not incorporated, then there is no way for the court to modify it at a later stage. If court is not given that power, then the agreement can only be modified by both parties reaching a mutual understanding.

The court has to consider two things when considering a motion to modify post-separation support:

  • That any changes in circumstances take into account the interests of the family and of society as a whole
  • That litigation is avoided for matters that have already been decided

In any case of modification, it must require “changed circumstances” for the motion to be viable.

According to law, “changed circumstances” refer to a “substantial” change for it to be taken up in court. That depends on the relative financial status of both parties. Substantial change is usually needed in families earning minimal wages, not for a family which has millions in assets. Moreover, a change of only a couple of hundred dollars in income is not considered substantial change. The change in circumstances has to be enough to result in support payments that are inadequate for the needs of the person receiving them for them to demand more alimony from their spouse who is paying them. In these cases, the time of the original order awarding post-separation support and the time of the motion for modification are two relevant time periods in these cases.

Determining New Amount of Support

If the court determines that there has been a change in circumstances which justifies a change, then it will move on to the next step, which is to determine the new amount of support that is to be paid. In such a case, the needs of the receiving party and the ability of the party paying them are relevant. Nothing else is taken into consideration, such as the behavior of the parties towards each other, moral misconduct, if any, etc.

The dependant party will have to prove that their expenses have increased and that the party giving alimony has the financial means to pay it. Similarly, if the spouse paying support has decreased income, he or she may seek to decrease payments to a dependent spouse. Different scenarios can arise, such as retirement of the spouse paying alimony, increased or decreased expenses of the receiver, as well as increased or decreased expenses of the supporting spouse. For any change in spousal support, contact a child custody attorney for guidance.