When a couple decides to terminate their marriage, one of the issues they will have to deal with is spousal support. Also known as maintenance or alimony, this is a court-directed payment that one party makes to the other during and after finalizing the divorce. Spousal support can be permanent or temporary depending on the duration of marriage and the parties’ financial situations at the time of the divorce process.
Spousal support payment, just like child support, is not cast on stone when it is statutory and modifiable. Meaning, either party can petition the court for its modification or termination under certain circumstances. When it is contractual and non-modifiable, then the court only retains jurisdiction to enforce the agreed upon and ordered terms.
Here are valid grounds upon which you may petition the court to modify an existing statutory/modifiable spousal support order.
When the receiving party remarries, cohabits or passes
Unless the divorce terms specify otherwise, the party receiving alimony payment shall automatically lose their right to these payments when they remarry or pass on. And in some circumstances, when the recipient cohabits with a romantic partner who is financially assisting the recipient. Thus, if you learn that your ex has remarried, moved in with a romantic partner or dies, you should immediately review your support terms and potentially alert the court about the new development so you can modify or stop paying spousal support. And if you have only recently learned about your ex’s marriage, cohabitation or death, but have been paying spousal support, then you may need to seek the court’s intervention so you can recover any payments you made after their remarriage, cohabitation or death.
When there is a substantial change in your circumstances
Life is all about change. And when it comes to spousal support, a “substantial and continual change in circumstances” can go either way. Substantial and continual change in circumstance generally refers to a change in either party’s financial situation. Thus, if you have permanently lost your job or fallen on hard times with changed income, you may petition the court to modify the existing spousal support payments. Likewise, if the receiving party’s financial situation has changed, i.e, they have received sufficient qualifications and skills to find a job with good income, then the paying party may petition the court to modify or terminate the existing spousal support arrangement.
Spousal support is meant to cushion and rehabilitate the disadvantaged party from the financial hardship that may arise following the divorce. These are some of the reasons why spousal support payments may be modified or terminated altogether.