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Can You Disprove the Need for Alimony Payments?

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Alimony payments, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, are among the most contentious issues in divorce. Even after a judge has issued an order indicating that one spouse should be paying the other alimony, the payments don't continue indefinitely. There are certain circumstances under which the payment can be stopped. Some of these conditions may even be stated in the order issued by the judge. Here are some factors to know about changes to alimony payments.

Change in Circumstances

In certain cases, if the order doesn't state the conditions under which modifications to the alimony payments, you can put in a request to have the alimony adjusted. If you can no longer afford to pay your alimony, you can ask for the court to make the necessary changes. However, you'll have to show justification. You'll need to show that either your financial situation or that of your former spouse has changed significantly. This can include situations such as these:

  • You are no longer able to work as a result of illness or disability
  • The other party has remarried
  • The other party is cohabiting with another person
  • You've involuntarily lost your job or your wages have been reduced
  • Your former partner's income has increased recently

If the change in circumstances is minor, an adjustment to alimony will not be considered. The change in circumstance should be something of significance.

Alimony and Cohabitation

Although it's easy to know if your former spouse has remarried, it's much harder to tell if he or she is cohabiting with another person. There are criteria that are used to determine if two people are cohabiting. Two people will be considered to be cohabiting if they answer affirmatively to questions like these:

  • In any given week, does the couple spend overnights together for 3 or more nights?
  • Are household chores shared by the couple?
  • Does one person have personal belongings (e.g., clothes or a toothbrush) at the other person's house?
  • Are the children given instructions not to say that a certain person lives in the house?

If the couple's situation meets more than one criterion, you'll have a better chance of proving cohabitation.

What Happens after a Motion Is Filed?

Once your family law attorney has filed a motion to have alimony payments dismissed, the court will allow the former spouse to carry out discovery. This involves going through each other's financial documents (e.g., tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.). This is used to show whether a spouse actually needs the financial support or whether the other can afford to pay support.

Speak with your family law attorney to learn more.