Modification of Alimony
1.Can permanent alimony be modified?
Many believe permanent alimony is indeed permanent. However, permanent alimony can be raised, lowered and even terminated, depending on the circumstances. The legal burden is a showing of a substantial change in circumstances not contemplated at the time of the order or judgment that imposed the alimony obligation. Examples of a change in circumstances can be the reasonable retirement of the payor, the disability of the payor or payee, or even a sudden change in employment that was not voluntary.
2.What is a reasonable retirement age that the court’s would consider in a request to reduce or terminate alimony?
The case law seems to indicate that a retirement at age 66 years old is reasonable. However, the case law also says that the reduction or termination of the alimony cannot leave the receiving spouse in a state of poverty.
3.Can the income of a receiving spouse be considered in a modification of alimony request?
The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to a former spouse who does not have the financial means to support himself or herself. If the receiving spouse subsequently becomes employed such that his or her financial need is being met or almost met by the income earned, it may be possible to seek a reduction or termination of alimony.
4.What kinds of alimony can be modified?
Under the statute, only Bridge the Gap alimony cannot be modified as to the amount or duration. Rehabilitative, durational and permanent alimony can be modified based on a showing of a substantial change ins circumstances. Bridge the Gap, durational and permanent alimony terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse.
5.Is the state of the economy considered in a request to modify alimony?
In some cases, the state of the economy will be considered by the Court in a request to modify alimony. In particular, the recent recession affected some professional more significantly than others, such as real estate development. Courts have recently taken the economic downturn into consideration particularly if the requesting party was a member of the most affected professions and that party has been making every effort to earn a living.