Modifying a Spousal Maintenance Order
Modifying a spousal maintenance order is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in family law. (Perhaps only a parenting time modification is more challenging.) At Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., we analyze clients’ situations carefully before recommending the most feasible ways to achieve spousal maintenance modifications. Timing of the required motion can be critical. Waiting even one day longer than the specified time period of effectiveness of a court order may mean that the court no longer has jurisdiction and cannot consider the case.
Keep in mind that the way you have been awarded spousal maintenance is critical to determining how modifiable it is. Without a careful review of the language that was used in your spousal maintenance order, it is impossible to predict the risk that you may be walking into by requesting a modification. (For example, did your spousal maintenance order include a Karon waiver, stipulating that there would be no future modification of spousal maintenance at the time the award is made? Ask a knowledgeable attorney at Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., to evaluate your case in light of this possibility.)
Substantial Change in Circumstances
When there is no Karon waiver in place, and when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, either party can petition the court to modify a spousal maintenance order. A significant change might be an increase or decrease of income by either party, or remarriage of the recipient party. Courts do grant such motions under the right circumstances, though the motion must be grounded in fact and reflect the true circumstances of the parties.
Our family law lawyer DeAnne Dulas uses her extensive experience to protect clients’ rights and interests, aiming to achieve fair outcomes cost-effectively. Her attentiveness to critical details such as strict timelines reassures clients of her suitability for challenging family law matters such as spousal maintenance order motions.
When Is a Spousal Maintenance Order Modifiable?
Spousal maintenance can be reviewed every few years or when there has been a substantial change in circumstances such as:
- A significant increase or decrease in a party’s income
- The remarriage of the receiving party
- The onset of disability for either party
- Loss of a job
When an ex-spouse petitions the court to modify spousal maintenance, there are four possible outcomes:
- The court can deny the motion.
- The court can hear the motion, but delay issuance of a ruling pending further information or clarification.
- When spousal maintenance is permanent, this means that there is an ongoing opportunity to petition and the court can increase or reduce the amount. An order to modify spousal maintenance may be issued under certain circumstances.
- When spousal maintenance is temporary, as long as it is in force, the court can increase or reduce the amount, or change the duration of spousal maintenance. These options exist only up until the end of the time period of the original order. Also during that time frame, an individual can petition the court to convert a temporary spousal maintenance order to a permanent one.
Our attorneys can review your situation and explain whether the court still has jurisdiction to consider your motion for a spousal maintenance modification. We can estimate with confidence what action the court will likely take. Our firm has experience in contested modification cases, including those in which income levels or other critical facts are in dispute. After a careful analysis of available options, we may decide to pursue an aggressive method of discovery with the assistance of experts. When necessary, we can call upon forensic accountants or other specialists to uncover hidden income or to dispute the allegation of hidden income.
With the law firm of Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., on your side, you can rest assured that your rights and interests will be carefully considered through all phases of a spousal maintenance modification case.