When a couple files for divorce, one of the issues often discussed is alimony. Also known as maintenance or spousal support, one spouse pays the lower-wage-earning or non-wage-earning spouse a monthly payment to provide an ongoing income.
However, things could change as the years pass since the end of the marriage. The paying spouse may experience difficulty committing to the payment plan set forth in the divorce agreement.
Fortunately, it is possible for the paying spouse to modify alimony. In Missouri and most states, an individual needs to prove that he/she has experienced a substantial financial change in circumstances that make it difficult to keep providing monthly payments according to the current divorce order.
The following are common examples of substantial changes in circumstances:
- The paying spouse gets fired from their job
- The paying spouse’s business fails
- The paying spouse retired
- The paying spouse experienced a major health issue that hinders earning ability
- The paying spouse experienced an increase in the cost of living
- The supported spouse received a substantial increase in income
- The supported spouse got remarried
Keep in mind, the change in circumstances need to be significant and involuntary. A judge will not modify spousal support due to a minor adjustment in either spouse’s income or other modes of finances.
When a motion to modify maintenance is filed, the spouses are allowed to conduct “discovery” in order to produce financial documentation demonstrating the spouses’ ability to pay alimony and/or the need for financial assistance.
Due to the complexities of modifying alimony payments, it is imperative to seek legal representation from an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the discovery process and court procedures to ensure you obtain the outcome you desire.