When Maryland couples divorce, one party may be forced to pay the other spousal support. In most cases, this alimony is paid until either party dies or until the receiver remarries. But what happens if the payer becomes unemployed or experiences a decrease in income? Can the payments be modified, at least for a temporary amount of time?
These questions are difficult to answer because there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to alimony. The rules vary from state to state and each situation is scrutinized carefully to determine if any changes should be made to the payment amount.
The court looks at the entire situation when making a decision. For example, sometimes payers purposely find ways to decrease their income so they can pay less alimony. They might even retire early in order to justify a decreased income. However, unless there is a medical reason, the courts typically won’t consider it a valid reason to request a decrease in alimony.
In order for the courts to consider a modification, there needs to be a significant decrease in income, such as through job loss. The courts may also allow reduced alimony payments while the payer attends school to finish his or her education, as long as this is done in good faith and with the goal to obtain a higher-paying job.
Determining an alimony award can be challenging and modifying it can be even more complex. The courts look at the circumstances involved when the spousal support was awarded and see if any changes occurred since that time. If they did, they must be substantial enough to warrant a modification.
Source: Naples News, “It’s The Law: The alimony can be modified,” William G. Morris, July 20, 2014