How to Modify Alimony in Arizona
Modifying an Arizona Alimony Order
If you already have a divorce decree in hand, but you feel that the 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 manage the payments financially.
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 lawyer. 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 former spouse 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 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 reduce the payment amount temporarily. If the recipient of the maintenance 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 period, the payment amount reverts 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 the law, cohabitation, cost of living increase, decreased the need for support, disability, financial emergency, or new support obligation.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about modifying alimony in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about alimony laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a modification of alimony case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.