How To Reduce Your Alimony Payments
Alimony payments, also known as spousal support and sometimes “maintenance”, are payments from one spouse to another after a marriage has ended. While not a given, alimony payments are very common.
The amount of alimony to be paid is typically set either in a marriage settlement agreement or in a divorce judgement. The terms of the alimony payments–how much will be paid, how often, and when payments will end–are also set in the terms of the settlement or court order and cannot be broken.
A marriage settlement or court order can also specify under what circumstances, if any, alimony payments can be modified. If you want to reduce your alimony payments, you need to understand your settlement or court order in detail (or speak with your attorney) to see what conditions allow that to happen.
If Your Alimony Payments Agreement Is Unclear
If your divorce settlement or court order for some reason doesn’t specify the circumstances under which you can attempt to reduce or modify alimony payments, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do it at all.
In those cases, either spouse is free to seek a change to alimony payments by filing a request with the court. However, in order to convince a judge to reduce alimony payments (or terminate them altogether), the paying spouse must prove a significant change in financial circumstances in either their own, or their ex-spouses lives.
Changes could be things like:
- Involuntary loss of a job or wage reduction
- Illness or disability that prevents the paying spouse from working
- Remarriage of the supported spouse
- Supported spouse living with a new partner
- Increase in former spouse’s income
These changes cannot be minor, the must be significant and show a definitive change and permanent impact on either spouse’s financial circumstances.
Once a motion to modify alimony has been filed, the court will typically allow both spouses to conduct “discovery,” meaning each will be entitled to ask the other to produce financial documentation showing the ability to pay support and/or the need for financial support, such as paystubs, tax returns, and financial statements.
While not required, it is highly recommended that you retain the services of a capable divorce attorney to help with the process of reducing alimony payments. A good lawyer will help clarify the requirements and act on your behalf to make sure all the proper documentation is filed and meets the court’s requirements.
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