Reasons Spousal Support Payments May Be Altered
The family law system recognizes that families grow and evolve over time. As a result, modification procedures may be available when existing orders handed down by a family law judge need to be altered. Most of the time, spousal support, child support, and child custody orders may only be modified in the event that an individual’s needs or a family’s circumstances have changed significantly since the initial orders were enacted. There may be any number of reasons why circumstances would change drastically enough to warrant the alteration of existing spousal support orders.
Benefits Have Changed
When one former spouse’s income is dramatically altered, a modification order requesting that support orders be increased, decreased, or eliminated may be appropriate. For example, if an individual responsible for paying support to his or her former spouse becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, this situation may serve as legitimate grounds for a modification.
However, it may be worth exploring whether any Social Security Disability Insurance payments, workers’ compensation benefits, or retirement benefits should be used to continue making an altered spousal support payment. Financial hardship on the part of one former spouse is not always grounds to cut off all forms of support, as doing so may plunge the other former spouse into financial hardship as well. Situations like these are relative to an extent, and must be considered carefully by a judge in order to ensure fair treatment of both former spouses’ interests.
Life Circumstances Have Altered Significantly
Significant changes in income are not the only grounds for legitimate support modification requests. Any time a spouse’s life circumstances change dramatically, new grounds for a modification request may exist. The most obvious life transition warranting a modification is the remarriage of the spouse receiving spousal support payments. In many cases, remarriage automatically triggers a release of spousal support obligations, but even if a former spouse moves in with a romantic partner, he or she may no longer be entitled to receive support payments.
Essentially, because so many different circumstances may lead to a legitimate modification request on the part of either spouse, it is generally a good idea to speak with an experienced family law attorney, any time you believe you may benefit from exploring this option. An attorney in your area will be positioned to explain any opportunities or restrictions that your jurisdiction honors in regard to modification requests and can discuss your particular situation with you in detail.
Modification Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about modifications to spousal support obligations, please consider contacting an experienced family law attorney. Lawyers who specialize in family-related legal matters will be able to advise you of your legal options once they learn about your specific support-related circumstances. There are no guarantees in modification cases, but speaking with an attorney will be able to give you a good sense of whether a formal modification request would be potentially successful or not in your case.