MODIFYING AN EXISTING SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AWARD
My previous three blog posts discussed qualifying for spousal maintenance and the factors the Court considers when determining how much will be paid for how long.
Once an order has been entered it can last for years or months. During that time things can change and one party may want to modify the order. To do that the person that wants the change must file a Petition with the Court asking for a modification.
If the parties were not able to agree on the amount and duration of spousal maintenance during the divorce, then the Judge decided how much would be paid for how long.
When the Court makes the original determination of the amount and duration the Court has continuing jurisdiction over the parties throughout the entire award. For example, if the Court originally ordered that spousal maintenance would be paid for ten years, then the Court has jurisdiction over the parties for ten years until the last payment is made.
To modify a spousal maintenance award, the requesting party must show a substantial and continuing change in circumstances and then the Court considers the same 13 statutory factors used for the original award (you can find those statutory factors in my last two blog posts).
If, on the other hand, the parties were able to agree on the amount and duration of the spousal maintenance award during the divorce, they had the option of making the award modifiable or making the award non-modifiable.
There are benefits to both, but with a non-modifiable award everyone knows what to expect and you aren’t going back to court on a regular basis with modification petitions. The down side of non-modifiable is that if something happens you are stuck with the award that was agreed to during the divorce and there is nothing you can do about it.
The unique thing here is that the parties MUST agree in order for a spousal maintenance award to be non-modifiable. The court cannot order it.
If you are considering filing to modify an award of spousal maintenance and you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at480.994.8824 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.