During the divorce process, alimony, or spousal maintenance, may be established where one ex-spouse pays the other money when there is a substantial difference in the income of both parties. This can be paid as a lump sum, periodic payments, a percentage of earnings or through a transfer of property.
What happens if the financial or living situations for either spouse change? Is there an opportunity to alter the alimony agreement that was in the final divorce order?
In New York, alimony can be modified when any of the following occurs:
- There has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as a remarriage, cohabitation or job loss
- There is a 15 percent change in either spouse's income
- Three years have passed since the alimony was established or last modified
In every case, the individual circumstances can impact the ability to change support arrangements. For example, it must be proven that the changes in circumstances actually impact either spouse's income or the receiving spouse's living arrangements.
Circumstances that warrant a modification request might also include an increase in the cost of living, temporary or permanent disability, a serious illness, an unexpected financial or medical emergency or a change in state support laws.
If you need to modify current orders for alimony, it is in your best interests to work with an experienced family law attorney. With legal representation, you will fully understand your options, know what to expect from the process and have an advocate on your side at every step.