WHEN CAN I REQUEST A MODIFICATION OF AN ALIMONY AWARD?
Once a judge has signed off on a settlement in a divorce case, they often need to have a good reason to open it back up and make post-judgment modifications to it. The grounds on which a judge may decide to honor a former spouse’s request for a change in alimony award are numerous.
A paying spouse, or payor, who experiences a financial emergency such as a loss of a job or high medical bills may request to pay less in spousal support. They may also do so if they have a mental or physical disability.
Payors may also request a reduction in alimony if their ex starts receiving significantly more income than they did previously. They may be able to do so if they start cohabitating with a love interest or they remarry as well.
If laws related to the awarding of alimony were to change in California, the criteria that the recipient would have to meet to qualify to receive support would change. This would necessitate a modified order being drafted in their case.
Couples can avoid having to file for a modification of spousal support by including either an escalator of a cost of living adjustment (COLA) clause in their original settlement agreement.
An escalator clause essentially entitles a recipient spouse to receive their fair share of any increase in pay that a payor receives. A COLA one requires the spouse making the payments to increase how much they remit at a rate that is equivalent to their annual increase in salary.
Remember that even if you and your ex verbally agree to a modification of spousal support payments, you should put these changes in writing to protect both of you. A family law attorney can advise you of whether you meet the criteria to request a modification of alimony and, if so, help you draft an agreement for a judge in Orange to sign off on.