When a divorce is finalized, there may be an award of spousal support known as alimony. After time passes, one of the parties from the divorce may want or need to modify alimony payments. The first step to determining if the alimony payments can change is to determine the type of alimony awarded in the divorce. Each type of alimony has different rules regarding modification.
There are four types of alimony that can be awarded in a divorce:
- rehabilitative alimony
- periodic alimony (also known as alimony in futuro
- transitional alimony; and
- lump sum alimony (also known as alimony in solido).
Rehabilitative alimony terminates upon the death of either party or can be modified by a substantial and material change in circumstances. Periodic alimony terminates upon the death of either party or when the recipient spouse cohabitates with someone who contributes to that recipient spouse’s support or the recipient spouse remarries or may be modified by a “substantial and material change in circumstances.” Transitional alimony terminate upon the death of either party or when the recipient spouse cohabitates with someone who contributes to that recipient spouse’s support or the recipient spouse remarries. Lump sum alimony is non-modifiable, does not terminate upon the death of the recipient, and does not terminate upon the recipient spouse remarrying or cohabitating with another.
To modify alimony payments for rehabilitative or transitional alimony, the petitioner must go through a two-step process. First, the petitioner must demonstrate a substantial and material change in circumstances since the entry of the final divorce decree. Second, that a change in alimony is warranted based on the same factors the court utilized to set alimony initially. The two most important factors are the recipient’s need and the obligated spouse’s ability to pay.
While alimony payments may be necessary at the time of a divorce, after some time passes, there may be circumstances which can warrant filing to modify the payments.
If you need help or have questions about modifying alimony, give us a call.
Leah Smith is an attorney at Held Law Firm.