Unless made specifically non-modifiable by agreement, or, in limited cases, by court order, potentially alimony is modifiable upon the occurrence of certain unanticipated, permanent change in the circumstances of the parties. This change may arise upon the retirement of the spouse paying alimony, as a result of the declining health or a medical event of either spouse, or in certain instances, upon either spouse’s permanent loss of or reduction in employment income or other income which is proved to be permanent in nature. Durational and permanent alimony are nearly always modifiable. Rehabilitative alimony is modifiable not only based on the prior examples, but in addition, if the recipient spouse drops out of school, no longer pursues his or her studies within the time frame determined for completion, or needs greater financial assistance from the paying spouse due to legitimate unanticipated increased costs in completing the rehabilitative plan.
Child support is always modifiable during the period of time it is payable (usually up until a child’s 18th birthday). Similar to alimony, child support is modifiable based upon significant permanent changes in one or both parent’s incomes from time to time, as long as the changes are not the result of the paying party’s misconduct, i.e. quitting a job, or being ordered to jail. If you have lost your job, perhaps due to a layoff, you will be expected to diligently seek new employment at the same or similar level of income and commensurate with your skills and education level. In the case of a temporary loss of employment, a parent may request a reduction or total abatement of child support while seeking new employment. Conversely, a party may seek an increase in the child support payments he or she receives if his or her income has decreased, or most typically, when the other parent’s income has increased. The increase in income must, once again, be significant and permanent. Under certain circumstances, the spouse receiving child support must be able to prove the increased needs of the child.
If you think that you should be receiving more alimony or child support, or that you are paying too much, we invite you to contact Alspector Family Law to discuss your options.