How to Lower or Terminate Spousal Support

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Once a couple has finalized their divorce and the two people are no longer legally married, the court may have entered an order for one of the spouses to pay some form of spousal support, usually on a monthly basis. Spousal support is typically ordered so that if one of the two people hasn’t been in the workforce because of his or her role in taking care of the household, he or she is able to live with a standard comparable to the time spent in the marriage, at least until he or she is able to obtain sufficient training to gain employment and no longer requires support to be paid. If there are conditions after this order has been made that warrant the support payments to be reduced or outright stopped, the order to stop the payments must be issued by a judge or court. This means you'll have to go through formal legal proceedings to lower spousal support.

Mutual Agreements 

The least complicated circumstance for having a spousal support payment reduced or terminated is through a written mutual agreement between both spouses, stating that the agreement was in no way coerced or forced upon either party.

  • Each of the spouses must agree on the terms completely, and in order to have the motion entered to the court and the alteration to the order carried out, it must be signed by a judge. 
  • These types of agreements are generally always approved by the court, as they don’t require the court’s involvement in the issue until the issue has been resolved, but any judge who signs one of these orders will most likely want to see some proof from both parties that the agreement is truly mutual before he or she will sign it, giving it the court’s approval.  

Petitioned Agreements 

Petitioned agreements are an alternative to mutual agreements. These are sought by one of the spouses when certain conditions arise.

  • For instance, a temporary modification petition may be entered to the court if the payer suffers and injury or illness, or if there is a loss of job or change in financial circumstance. This is only a temporary petition, however. 
  • A change of circumstance petition, on the other hand, is a permanent modification that may be entered if the payee’s financial circumstances change on a more permanent basis, meaning he or she obtains a job that pays sufficiently for the spousal support to be justifiable, or he receives an inheritance or an amount of money that allows him or her to live without working. These types of petitions must be filed by the payer. 
  • Occurrences like changes in state spousal support laws, or if a payee is found to be cohabitating with another individual who also contributes financially to the household can also result in a change in spousal support. Any of these petitions may be filed with the clerk of court in the county the support order was issued in.

Getting Help

If you need to reduce or change spousal support, you should strongly consider working with a lawyer. Your attorney can help you to follow the proper proceedings to increase the chances of a change being made as quickly as possible. 

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