When a divorce is finalized, the court may order you to pay child support or alimony to your ex-spouse. Generally, when the court orders you to pay alimony, they include stipulations to show when payments can end or be lowered.
Each state has different laws that determine when alimony payments can be lowered or terminated. Typically, you or your former spouse must face a substantial change in circumstances before the court would consider reducing or ending spousal support. In some cases, remarriage may serve as a substantial change.
Requirements for terminating or lowering alimony payments
The process for modifying your alimony payments is similar to changing child support payments. There are several avenues to modify alimony, including:
- Come to an agreement: If you and your ex-spouse can reach an agreement, you may be able to change the amount of your payments. However, the judge must sign off on the new arrangement. Otherwise, you could have trouble enforcing the contract. In addition, your former spouse may hold you accountable for unpaid alimony according to the original support order.
- Have a change in employment: Regardless of remarriage, if you recently received a pay cut or were laid off from your employer, you have grounds to lower or cease your alimony payments.
- Prove your spouse’s income increased: If your ex recently remarried, you could claim that the new spouse has the primary financial obligation to support them. Most states and courts will recognize this as a viable reason for adjusting alimony payments. Additionally, if your ex-spouse recently received a raise or found new employment with a substantially higher salary, you could provide evidence to the court to potentially change your payment amount.
You might also be able to request an alteration if your ex is living with their significant other while unmarried. Your ex-spouse would need to prove that they still rely on the alimony payments to avoid a decrease or termination. Otherwise, the court may decide in your favor and order payments to stop.
Working with an attorney while petitioning the court to alter your payments is a good idea. You could potentially overlook something if you do not have experience with divorce laws. Your attorney will closely evaluate your case and provide guidance throughout the process.