Can Spousal Support Be Modified?

Hi, I'm Dave Ward from the Ward Law Firm. One of the things that comes up frequently when you're dealing with any sort of spousal support payments is whether or not those payments can be modified, and if they can, what are the grounds for that? Well, there are a couple of rules that come into play when we're talking about modifying alimony, and the first one is that the only type of permanent alimony that is subject to being modified is periodic alimony.

See, in some instances a court can order or the parties can agree that there will be a lump sum payment that will be qualified as alimony. In those cases, the law stands right now stating that that cannot be modified. However, when we have periodic payments such as monthly payments, those are subject to modification, and there's two primary grounds that can be asserted to the trial court when asking for that modification.

The first one has to do with a change in the financial conditions of the parties, either the parties incomes have gone up, or they've gone down. So, that affects a number of different considerations that a court is supposed to look at when it's awarding alimony to begin with, specifically the needs of the party who's receiving it, and the ability of the other party to pay it. So, that is one of the grounds that a court can look to in determining whether or not it's going to modify alimony payments, and when it does that, it needs to again refactor those types of considerations in, in determining if it's gonna modify it at all, and if so, how much.

The other ground that we have for modifying periodic alimony is voluntary cohabitation of the party who's receiving the alimony. What that means is that's defined as the party receiving the alimony, being engaged with a live in person in a meretricious relationship. So, courts look to two different sorts of ways that that can be proved. The first is by proving that there is cohabitation going on, and that the parties are engaging in sexual congress. That's one of the ways. That is a very difficult thing to prove ordinarily. There is a second way that the court can do that, and that is by looking to see whether or not the people who are cohabitating together are both contributing to the household bills that are going on.

In the instance where the only proof that you have is the proof that the parties are sharing some of the expenses, in that circumstance, there is some authority that says that in modifying for those reasons, a court should consider just how much benefit is being derived by having that other party contributing in some way to the household expenses. That authority is not binding on our trial courts at this point, but it has been stated by a justice in our supreme court, so it is persuasive authority for that. So, if you have any other questions about alimony or modifying alimony, give me a call. I'm David Ward at the Ward Law Firm, and we help protect business owners facing divorce.

 

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