Whether you call it provisional spousal support, court-ordered alimony, or spousal upkeep payments, the money one party pays to another after the divorce is a predetermined amount paid each month in order to help the ‘dependent’ spouse improve his or her lifestyle. Since the court orders these payments using the life circumstances of the ‘supporting’ spouse to set the payments, when life situations change, you may need to consider modifying the agreement. Here are three reasons to do so.
Cost of Living
The COLA clause in most divorce agreements constitutes an automatic cost of living adjustment for alimony payments under the belief that wages will increase a certain amount each year. If there is no COLA clause, you may need to ask for a modification every year or two based on the cost of living.
Change in Circumstance
Life situations change from one year to another. When it happens to you, your divorce lawyer can request a modification in the support order based on any of the following changes in circumstances.
- Cohabitation – If your former spouse is cohabitating with someone, you can ask for termination or reduction in payments.
- Disability – Modification is common when a disability arises in one of the ex-spousal party’s lives. Increases and decreases in ordered amounts are frequent.
- Remarriage – If remarriage of either party occurs, the agreement can be expected to be modified. This is especially true if children enter the relationship.
- Emergency – When a financial emergency strikes that relate to children of the couple, a change in circumstances is often claimed. Because of the large amount of money frequently involved, the court may call the money a burden and split the cost between the parties.
- Need – Many changes in lifestyles also alter the need for additional support from a former spouse. This can include a new job, extreme raise in pay, or other financial changes.
Spousal Legal Agreement
You and your former spouse can agree to modify some of the terms of your agreement without the approval of the court. This lack of court structure can be a problem if one of the parties later reneges on the terms of those changes because you can not ask the court to enforce the contract. It is highly recommended that when you decide to change the terms of your spousal agreement, you contact your divorce lawyer and have the documents signed by the judge.
If you believe you have a reason to modify your spousal agreement, contact your divorce lawyer for advice. You never know when you can save yourself some money.
For more information call a family law attorney today.