The simple answer to the question “Can I reduce my alimony (maintenance) payments?” is the following: It depends on the agreement you have in place and whether your life or financial circumstances have changed or whether the person receiving maintenance’s life or financial circumstances have changed enough to merit a reduction. In this blog, we will explore the various conditions that can apply to seeking a modification of your alimony (maintenance) payments through the courts.
Alimony (Maintenance) in Missouri
Alimony, known also as spousal support or maintenance, is designed to ensure that both parties have the financial resources they need to move forward in a post-divorce life.
In today’s world most couples work. However, a huge differential can exist between a couple’s incomes, which puts one spouse at a distinct financial disadvantage. Also, at the outset of the marriage, the spouses may have agreed that one would remain a homemaker or stay-at-home parent or one spouse may have contributed significantly to the other’s financially successful career. These are the kind of scenarios that lead to the need for alimony (maintenance).
What Does Your Court Order Say?
In any Missouri court order regarding alimony, maintenance can be ordered for an indefinite period or for a specific timeframe. Courts can also declare in the original divorce agreement whether alimony (maintenance) can be modified in the future. Thus, if you want to reduce your alimony (maintenance) payments, the first thing you need to know is what your court order specifies in terms of the right for a modification.
It is also important to understand that a court order is a legal mandate. You cannot just lower your payments on your own because you have become financially strapped, for whatever reason. Doing so can prompt your ex to seek relief from your violation through the court. The court can then find you in contempt and could possibly even impose jail time.
Conditions for Lowering Your Alimony (Maintenance) Payments
When the terms of your alimony (maintenance) agreement allow you to modify your payments, you must go through a court procedure that will determine whether the modification is justified. You will have to prove to the court through compelling evidence that your life or financial circumstances or those of your ex have changed in a substantial and continuing way in order to prevail. A temporary momentary financial setback will not likely be enough to win the court’s approval.
Examples of substantial changes in circumstances include but are not limited to the following:
- Your income has decreased significantly through no fault of your own
- Your business has failed
- You have been beset by a health problem or injury that has impaired your earning capacity
- Your ex has remarried
- Your ex has had a significant increase in earnings (that is not temporary)
- You are retiring
- Your retirement funding has taken a huge hit
In most cases, depending what your Judgment states, the remarriage of your ex will almost always result in the end of your alimony (maintenance) requirement. In some cases, if your ex cohabits with someone else, you may also be able to reduce or end payments, but this can vary from case to case.
In all cases, reducing your alimony (maintenance) payments is a challenging proposition that requires a dedicated effort with supporting evidence. For this reason, it is always best to consult with a family law attorney in your area who knows the law and how the local courts operate on this matter. At Galmiche Law Firm, P.C., we have considerable experience on this issue and have helped countless individuals apply for alimony (maintenance) reductions in and around the greater St. Louis area.
Need a legal opinion on whether you can reduce your alimony? Contact us at (636) 552-4841 or arrange for a consultation on our Contact Page. Your initial consultation is complimentary.