Reasons You May Need a Spousal Support Modification

Years ago, just about anyone could receive spousal support as part of their divorce settlement. However, today, many states, including Massachusetts, have instated more guidelines to determine who will receive alimony. In general terms, short-term marriages will not qualify, though the courts may consider income discrepencies, the health of the parties and other factors in making a final decision. Regardless of that decision, though, there are reasons why you may need to modify the results.

In many cases, if the spouse who is receiving the support marries or moves in with someone else before the alimony period ends, the support should immediately end. However, it is often up to the payer to take the other party to court to put an end to the support officially through the courts. This reason is one of the easiest ones to prove, eliminating the support payments from the date of the marriage.

Failure to Pay
Not everyone will readily pay the amount of money ordered by the court. If your ex has been ordered to pay you spousal support and those payments have fallen behind, it may be time to talk to a lawyer. While you aren’t likely to gain more money from taking your ex back to court over the missed payments, the judge can increase the amount your ex has to pay each month. Garnishment may also be an option to help you obtain the money you are entitled to.

Financial Hardships
In today’s economy, financial hardships are more common. People may lose their job and be forced to accept a lower-paying job. Illnesses and other unexpected emergencies can place a financial strain on the person who is ordered to pay alimony. In these situations, a judge may temporarily lower the support obligation to prevent even greater hardships.

Other Changes in Circumstances
To modify any support order, it is important to have a change in circumstances. This can mean many things. Perhaps you have a new support obligation, such as to a child you did not previously know about. Other changes in circumstances can include cost of living increases, changes to spousal support laws and a new disability. If you have experienced any major change in circumstances, talk to a lawyer to find out if you qualify for a modification request.

Spousal support is designed to help the spouse who made less money or even stayed home to get back on their feet as they enter their new life. It is not meant to be permanent, which is why it is typically only ordered for a specified period of time. However, there are reasons why you should seek a modification to change or stop the order prior to its designated end.

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