How to Modify Alimony in Arizona

If you already have a divorce decree in hand, but you feel that the spousal support/alimony is not adequate for the current situation, you can request a modification.

To obtain a modification to the current spousal support/alimony there needs to be a substantial change in need or a substantial change in the ability of the ex-spouse ordered to pay support to financially manage the payments. Both of these situations can be appropriate reasons, or grounds, to obtain a post-judgment modification of your spousal support/alimony.

Contact your Arizona family law attorney to talk about divorce laws that apply to your situation and to discuss your options with your attorney. An experienced Arizona divorce attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to obtain a modification of your spousal support/alimony payments or the amount you receive from your ex-spouse. It’s possible you could lower the amount you pay, the amount you receive or have the support payments terminated entirely.


Common Reasons for Alimony or Spousal Support Modifications

Both Ex-spouses Agree to the Modification: if you and your ex agree to alter the terms of your alimony/spousal support, make sure to submit the mutually desired modification request through the court, so that the newly arranged terms can be enforced at a later date if it becomes necessary. Having the changes signed by a judge is the best way to protect yourself in the future.

Cost of Living Adjustment Clause of COLA Clause: You may request that the original divorce decree spousal support/alimony payment increase at a rate that is equal to the increased annual cost of living due to the COLA clause. It is a good idea to include a COLA clause in your original divorce decree so that you can avoid potentially contentious modification requests in the future.

Escalator Clause: The inclusion of an escalator clause in your original divorce decree can be useful if the payor’s earnings are expected to increase in future. This clause entitles the recipient of court mandated spousal support/alimony payments to receive increased payments automatically as the payor’s earnings rise. This makes the recipient of support payments automatically eligible for a portion of future raises in pay.

Temporary Modification of Alimony/Spousal Support or Maintenance: Certain situations can cause a temporary hardship (i.e. illness, job loss, etc.) and can warrant an increase or decrease in support payments. If the payor experiences the hardship, the court may find it appropriate to temporarily decrease the payment amount. If the recipient of the support payments experiences hardship, the court may find it necessary to increase the amount temporarily. The increase/decrease is set for a predetermined amount of time to alleviate the hardship exhibited and at the end of that designated time period, the payment amount reverts back to the original amount.

Change of Circumstance: If the spouse receiving alimony experiences a drastic increase in pay, the payor can request that the court approve a modification decreasing the amount of support based on the change in the recipient’s financial circumstances. On the other hand, the spouse receiving support payments may request a modification increasing the amount if their ex-spouse receives a notable increase in income. Other changes in circumstance that could warrant a modification in alimony/spousal support include: change in law, cohabitation, cost of living increase, decreased need for support, disability, financial emergency, or new support obligation.