Increasing or Decreasing Spousal Support after a Divorce

Courts increase or decrease alimony/spousal support for a number of reasons.
Alimony/spousal support may increase automatically when the original support order provides a cost of living adjustment (COLA). Sometimes spouses negotiate support arrangements that provide that the payor’s income increases, support to the recipient also increases. Alimony/spousal support may increase when both spouses agree and petition the court to change the order. When spouses agree, the court usually agrees quickly because it assumes the spouses know their financial situation better than they could. If the spouses agree, things always proceed more smoothly.

However, when spouses do not agree, a party can request a change in the support order by filing a petition with the court for modification. The petitioner/plaintiff must convince the court that there is a good reason for increasing or decreasing the original support order. Normally this involves what is called a “material change in circumstance,” which means the income of the payor increases or decreases significantly or the needs of the recipient increases or decreases significantly. The change can work both ways.

Alimony/Spousal Support is not modified through the court as often as one may think. Since Alimony/Spousal Support is often negotiated (or ordered by the court) in conjunction with some type of property settlement, it can be quite unfair to modify it.

Also keep in mind that an existing court order will often have terms defined which would result in the termination of the order.  These terms are typically, remarriage and/or cohabitation.

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