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Modifying Alimony Arrangements


Depending on the alimony award the divorce court assigns during divorce, it may be possible to petition the court to modify alimony payments or terminate the award later. Typically, lump-sum alimony, permanent alimony and reimbursement alimony can't be changed.

Ongoing alimony awards, such as rehabilitative alimony, may be modified by the divorce court. Depending on divorce laws in your state, it may be possible to increase or decrease the permanent alimony award.

Alimony law differs from state to state, but in most states either spouse can petition the divorce court to reconsider the alimony award if there is a significant change in circumstances. The definition of significant is up to the divorce court.

If a couple is on good terms after the divorce, it may be possible to modify the alimony award without seeking approval from the divorce court; however, if there are problems later on, the divorce court will not be able to help enforce the new alimony award.

Protect your financial future by getting advice from a divorce lawyer and having the divorce court sign off when you modify alimony.

Reasons to Modify Alimony

There may be many different reasons for a couple to modify alimony, including:

Change of Circumstances

Changes in circumstances after the divorce is one of the most common reasons why a couple may modify alimony. This includes many different situations to increase or decrease the alimony award. Some situations that may lead to a couple modifying alimony may include, but is not limited to:

  • Raise or job promotion
  • Cut in pay or loss of job
  • Changes to alimony law
  • Receiving spouse cohabiting with someone else
  • Increase or decrease in cost of living
  • Disability
  • Financial emergency
  • New support obligation for paying spouse

The divorce court will use state divorce law and its discretion to determine if the change in circumstances is significant enough to warrant modifying alimony.

Temporary Change in Alimony

In some situations, the divorce court may feel that it needs to modify alimony but only until the financial circumstances for the paying or receiving spouse becomes stable again. An illness or loss of job may be considered by the divorce court for a temporary change in alimony payments. The divorce court will set an end date for the modified alimony award, and at the end of the period, the alimony award will go back to what was originally ordered.

Clauses in the Alimony Agreement

In the alimony agreement, a couple may include specific clauses that address particular situations. For examples, a cost of living adjustment clause in an alimony agreement can allow for alimony payments to increase or decrease at a particular rate equal to the annual cost of living. Including this clause in a divorce settlement can limit the number of times you have to petition the divorce court to modify alimony. In an escalator clause, the receiving spouse is automatically given a share of the supporting spouse's increase in earnings.

Speak to a Divorce Attorney about Modifying Alimony

A local divorce lawyer can help give you information when negotiating your alimony agreement to ensure you don't have to continue to petition the divorce court to modify alimony. With help from a divorce attorney near you, understand how changes in your circumstances can affect you financial needs. Learn how alimony can be modified to reflect significant changes in your life. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a divorce case review form to get in touch with divorce lawyer today.

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The above summary of modifying alimony is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on alimony laws, speak to a local divorce lawyer in your state.