Does Alimony Change as Income Changes?
When it comes to alimony, the answer to this question is a little complicated. In general, though, the answer is yes–alimony payments may be increased or decreased as a result of a change in income.
If you’re concerned that your income may soon change and lead to an increase in your alimony payments, then it’s important to seek legal help. An experienced attorney can help present your case to the court and argue on your behalf.
You must still make alimony payments as ordered by the court; however, you can also present evidence detailing why the payments should change.
Changed Circumstances to Modify Alimony
When it comes to alimony payments, any change in circumstance must be “substantial” in order for a court to even consider the possibility of a modification. What exactly constitutes as substantial is up to the discretion of the trial court, but there are some general guidelines that can help provide clarity.
For example, if there is a significant or unforeseen event that causes one party’s income to drop significantly below what was originally agreed upon, this could be grounds for requesting a change in support payments. Alternatively, if the paying spouse suddenly becomes much wealthier than before, this too could be considered a changed circumstance.
Ultimately, whether or not an alleged financial change is considered significant depends on relative income levels between the parties in question. If one side is earning significantly more than the other, then even a small decrease in the other spouse’s income may be enough to warrant a modification.
It’s important to note that while most changes in circumstances are reviewed by courts on a case-by-case basis, there are some instances where modifications can take place for reasons other than a change in income. For instance, rehabilitative alimony can be increased or decreased depending on whether or not the supported spouse has made significant progress in their job training or education.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that alimony cannot be changed by a judge if there is a written agreement that says it is non-modifiable. If both parties have agreed to this ahead of time, then neither side can go back on their word later on.
Determining the New Amount of Support
When it comes to alimony, a change in income can mean a change in payments. In general, if there is a change in circumstances, the court must now consider the ability of the other party to pay. The court will look at all relevant factors, found in Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319, and not just consider only the change in a spouse’s income.
This means that courts must take into account changes and other factors when determining the new amount of support. Courts should not increase support solely based on an increase in the supporting spouse’s income or a decrease in the supported spouse’s income.
Rather, courts will often look to the couple’s standard of living during their marriage as well as their financial situation when determining what an appropriate level of support is. This does not necessarily set a ceiling for the level of support though–a court may determine that an increased amount is necessary due to changed circumstances.
The Reality on Alimony Modification
The process of getting a change in alimony payments is not an easy one. You must be able to show that there has been a permanent change in your income, and the court will require evidence to support your claim.
Unfortunately, losing your job or retirement may not be considered sufficient grounds for a modification of alimony payments.
If you are unable to make your alimony payments, it’s important to take action right away. Failure to do so can result in a contempt hearing, where the court will determine if you have the present ability to pay what you owe.
It’s also worth noting that those seeking a modification of their alimony payments have the burden of proof.
The laws governing alimony modifications can be frustrating and confusing, but it’s important to know what your rights are during this difficult time.
The Alimony Modification Process
Filing the Petition for Modification of Alimony
Either party can file a petition for modification of alimony at any time. The petitioner may be the spouse paying alimony or the spouse receiving alimony. The petition for modification can be filed in family court division of the Superior Court that issued the original alimony payments.
If you and your ex agree on a modification in alimony, write it down and file the proper modification documents with the court. This agreement, also called a Stipulation, will show that both parties agree to the new terms. It is important to remember that signing this document does not mean that either party cannot go back to court later if they choose to do so.
What Evidence do I need to Present?
When requesting a modification to alimony, you will be asked to provide evidence of a change in circumstances. The court wants to ensure that the change is significant and warrants a modification to the previous agreement. This could be done by providing:
-A copy of the most recent tax return
-An Affidavit of Financial Information
-Documentation of any bonuses or commissions received
-Proof of Social Security Disability benefits, if applicable
-A letter from an employer confirming current employment status and salary.
A judge will consider the obligated spouse’s net income and fixed debts in determining if a change of circumstance has occurred. The judge will also take into account the obligated spouse’s personal living expenses . This can be difficult to do, as each individual’s situation is unique.
Getting Attorney’s Fees in Alimony Modifications
When a person is seeking to modify an alimony order, there are a few things that they should be aware of. First of all, it’s important to understand that attorney’s fees may be awarded, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 25-324, in these types of cases if the interests of justice require it. This determination will be made by the judge, and the paying spouse may be ordered to pay the legal fees for the receiving spouse instead.
It’s also worth noting that there is a specific procedure for modifying alimony payments, and this process does not involve making retroactive changes to the amount paid in previous years. In other words, any modifications will only apply going forward from the date on which the modification petition is filed.
Should I Have an Attorney Help Me with My Alimony Modifications?
Making modifications to an alimony payment can be difficult. You may be asking yourself, “Do I need an attorney to help me with this?” The answer is: It depends.
If you want to make a modification and you have a good relationship with your former spouse, then it might not be necessary to have an attorney involved. However, if there are any disagreements or potential problems between you and your former spouse, it’s always best to work with an attorney.
If you need information about the affect a change of income has on alimony in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona alimony and spousal maintenance attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona alimony or spousal maintenance case around.
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