No one wants to pay spousal support longer than they should, especially if their financial circumstances worsened, making the court order impractical. Thankfully, family courts understand that life continually changes and some of these changes are substantial enough to warrant a reduction in spousal support payments.
Before taking the matter to court, you can discuss it with your former spouse. If you are on relatively amicable terms, you may be able to reach an agreement regarding a reduction in payments, which can save you time. However, you should not rely on a verbal agreement. The changes must be approved through the right legal channels.
Requesting a Post-Divorce Modification
If you and your former spouse cannot agree on a modification of spousal support payments, you must petition the court with your request. Generally, a judge will not grant this request unless the petitioning party can prove a substantial change in circumstances.
The following are examples of substantial changes in circumstances:
- You unwillingly lost your job. If you chose to leave your job, a judge will not perceive this a significant change in circumstances and you will still be responsible for complying with the spousal support order.
- You unwillingly experienced a reduction in wages. If you chose to take on a job with fewer responsibilities, resulting in a wage reduction, it is unlikely a judge will reduce your spousal support payments.
- Your former spouse remarried or moved in with a new romantic partner. Remarriage typically results in the automatic termination of spousal support. However, if your former spouse moves in with a new partner, you will have to petition the court for a reduction or termination.
- You developed a health condition that prevents you from working. If your condition is temporary, a judge may simply temporarily suspend or reduce your spousal support payments.
- Your former spouse received an increase in wages. The increase in income must be sizeable for a judge to consider a reduction in spousal support payments. If your former spouse only received a minor cost of living adjustment, you should not expect a modification.
To determine if the changes in circumstances are substantial enough for a reduction, you and your former spouse must produce certain financial documents, including pay stubs, financial statements, and tax returns. Given the complexities and challenges involved in this process, it is crucial to hire experienced legal representation to guide you through it.
Speak to an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today!
If you believe your circumstances changed significantly, warranting a reduction or termination of your spousal support payments, you should not hesitate to secure skilled legal counsel to pursue a modification. At the Law Office of Pamela C. Bratcher, our family law attorney can help you navigate every step of the process, so you have the best possible chance of securing the results you need. We understand that the court order that once suit your circumstances may not always be right for you and will fight to obtain the appropriate modifications.
Contact our law office today at (270) 977-8910 to set up a consultation and discuss the details of your case.