Divorce or separation can be a challenging and emotionally charged time for all parties involved, especially when it comes to spousal support disputes.
Can You Dispute a Spousal Support Order?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a financial arrangement where one spouse provides financial assistance to the other following a divorce or separation.
While many spousal support orders are established based on the specific circumstances of the divorcing couple, there may be situations where you believe the order is unfair or no longer appropriate.
It’s essential to know that it is possible to dispute a spousal support order, but it typically involves meeting specific legal criteria and providing compelling reasons.
Here’s what you need to consider:
1. Change in Circumstances
To dispute a spousal support order successfully, you usually need to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. This could include changes in income, employment, health, or other factors that impact your ability to pay or your ex-spouse’s need for support.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Loss of Employment: If you’ve lost your job or experienced a significant reduction in income, you may be eligible for a reduction in spousal support payments.
- Increase in Income: Conversely, if your ex-spouse’s financial situation has improved significantly, you may seek to reduce or terminate spousal support.
- Health Issues: Health problems that affect your ability to work or your ex-spouse’s ability to support themselves may be grounds for modification.
- Cohabitation or Remarriage: In many jurisdictions, if the spouse receiving support starts cohabiting with a new partner or remarries, it can be grounds for modifying or terminating spousal support.
- Retirement: The retirement of either spouse can impact their financial situation and ability to pay or need for spousal support. This change in circumstances may warrant a modification.
- Term Limit Expiry: If spousal support was ordered for a specific duration, reaching the end of that term can be a reason for modification. The circumstances of both parties may have changed, necessitating a reassessment of support requirements.
It’s important to note that the specific criteria and procedures for spousal support modifications can vary by jurisdiction, and consulting with a family law attorney is advisable for personalized guidance.
2. Court Modification
In most cases, spousal support orders can be modified, but only if you can prove that the change in circumstances is substantial and ongoing. Keep in mind that what qualifies as a significant change may vary depending on your jurisdiction.
3. Consult with an Attorney
Disputing a spousal support order can be a legally complex process. It’s highly advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance on how to navigate the legal system effectively.
4. Gather Documentation
To support your case, gather documentation that illustrates the change in circumstances, such as financial records, medical reports, or employment information. This evidence will be crucial in presenting a strong case.
5. Court Hearing
If an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation or mediation, you may need to go to court to dispute the spousal support order formally. Present your evidence and arguments before a judge, who will decide whether the spousal support order should be modified.
Alternative Solutions for Spousal Support Disputes
Disputing a spousal support order is not the only way to address concerns or issues regarding support payments. Consider these alternative solutions:
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce
Mediation and collaborative divorce processes encourage cooperative discussions and problem-solving. They often lead to more amicable agreements, reducing the emotional toll on both parties. You should reach out to a family law attorney for this as well.
If both you and your ex-spouse agree that changes are needed to the spousal support order, you can work together with your attorney to draft a modification agreement. This agreement should be submitted to the court for approval, ensuring it becomes a legally binding document.
The primary objective in any dispute over spousal support should be to maintain a stable and nurturing environment for all parties involved. It’s often possible to resolve issues without resorting to litigation, making it crucial to explore these alternative solutions whenever possible.
Reaching out to an experienced family law attorney can make this run smoother and give you peace of mind when doubts arise. Brungess and Kezirian, LLP, Attorneys at Law are ready to help you face family law contested matters with quality advice and support.