Westborough Alimony Modification Lawyers
Alimony, also known as spousal support, becomes legally binding just like all the other terms of your divorce when the divorce process has been finalized. While this payment may be in accordance with what you, your ex-spouse, and/or the court have decided at that time, it may not work forever. As time passes, circumstances can change which lead to the necessity of altering the terms of the agreement. You or your ex-spouse may petition the court for a modification of this support at any point where it is justified by a substantial shift in your financial or other life circumstances.
Backed by 35 Years’ Experience in Massachusetts Family Law
If you have questions about altering the alimony provisions of your existing divorce decree in Worcester, Hanover, or Westborough, we urge you to speak with a dedicated Worcester alimony modification attorney at O’Connor Family Law. Because we have over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, we can offer highly-knowledgeable assistance in various situations that can impact spousal support. We can advise you on whether a legal basis exists for you to seek a modification as well as accompany you through the entire court process. Alternatively, if an ex-spouse is requesting a change in your alimony that could put you at a financial disadvantage, we can help you fight it in or out of court.
Want to seek or contest an alimony modification? Reach out to us online or at (774) 214-2137 to book a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
Potential Grounds for an Alimony Modification
You or your ex-spouse may seek an alimony modification to increase or decrease the existing payment. Regardless of who files the complaint for a modification, the court will only entertain this request if the party requesting it can prove that a substantial change in circumstances justifies it.
Examples of grounds for an alimony modification can include:
- The supporting party has lost his or her job resulting in an inability to financially meet this obligation.
- The receiving party has obtained a promotion or gotten a new job resulting in a pay increase.
- The receiving party has begun cohabiting with another intimate partner.
- The receiving party has remarried.
- The supporting party has contracted a serious illness resulting in the inability to work.
- The supporting party has been seriously injured resulting in an ability to work.
Even if your ex-spouse has begun living with someone else or has remarried, unless these situations have been written directly into the original judgment, your alimony obligation is not automatically terminated. You will need a court order to achieve that. It is best to have these situations addressed and written into the original court order but, if it has not been taken into account, a formal modification petition will need to be filed and your case taken up by a judge.
Some individuals will hold out on going back to court after a job loss with the hope that they will find new employment soon. However, this can backfire because you cannot generally seek an alimony decrease or termination dating back to when you your circumstances first changed. You can only seek a modification dating back to when your complaint is served to your ex-spouse. This means to reserve your right to seek a decrease, suspension, or termination, you must file as soon as possible.
It is also important to note that quitting a job to work at a lesser paying one to avoid alimony doesn’t work either. Voluntarily doing this can lead to a judge imputing your old income to you regardless of your current income. This would mean you would still have to pay alimony based on the higher income while making less.
How Courts Decide Modification Requests
Judges may consider a range of factors when reviewing a complaint for an alimony modification. If it is shown that a significant change in circumstances has occurred, the judge will review the need of the receiving party and the payor’s ability to pay. After that, other factors may be considered, such as the length of the marriage, each party’s income and employment history, each party’s age and health, and a number of other factors.
The state’s alimony statutes were changed in 2011 so if your alimony order predates that, you may be able to seek a modification based on the new laws. How your original judgment is worded is very crucial in this matter which is why it is best to discuss this with one of our attorneys.
Get Seasoned Legal Help at O’Connor Family Law
Alimony modification complaints can have adverse and unexpected consequences that could impact your financial stability for years to come. It is also an issue that can lead to tension and stress when one party attempts to make changes to an existing agreement. Because of this, it is in your best interests to rely on the experience and knowledge of our family law firm that has repeatedly demonstrated its competence on this issue for decades.
Learn more about how we can help you through the modification process. Contact us at (774) 214-2137 today.