Divorce takes a big chunk out of your bank account and results in multiple major life changes. The combination of the two can make your finances a mess.
Whether you are the payer or payee, you may wonder if you can change the spousal support order to meet your changing financial needs. The answer is maybe.
Factors that affect alimony
First, know what factors the court considers in awarding alimony. There is no set formula, but the following usually influence the decision:
- Marital length
- Standard of living
- Financial stability, earning capacity and resources of each spouse
- Physical, mental and emotional health of each spouse
- Marital contributions to education, career advancement, child care, etc.
Even adultery can affect spousal maintenance.
Types of alimony
Considering these factors, the judge will determine if you or your spouse needs spousal support, and if so, which type:
- Bridge-the-gap: This short-term assistance (maximum of two years) aids in the transition of divorce and cannot undergo modification of the amount or length.
- Rehabilitative: Its purpose is to help the spouse in need regain or obtain education, job skills and credentials. It can change or end when the spouse completes the rehabilitative plan, if the spouse does not follow the plan or if the spouse's circumstances significantly change.
- Permanent: Upon meeting specific criteria, one spouse may be eligible for permanent (but still alterable) alimony. This is more common in long-term marriages with older spouses.
- Durational: If the spouse does not qualify for permanent support, temporary support is the alternative. Modifying the amount is possible, but altering the duration is more difficult.
In addition, the payments may be ongoing or a lump sum.
Reasons for modifying alimony postdivorce
The type of alimony determines the ability to modify it. The ones that may receive modifications only can for limited reasons. The first is the death of either spouse. The second is remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient. The last is changes in financial conditions, such as a major decrease in income. If any of these situations apply to you, and your alimony type is eligible for modification, then you can pursue a change to the decree.