Columbia Spousal Support Modification Lawyer
Alimony is one of the most controversial parts of a divorce property division settlement. According to some, spousal support is essentially a financial penalty which a new spouse must subsidize. According to others, alimony may be the only thing that keeps divorced ex-spouses out of poverty. This controversy is especially acute in Maryland. For the most part, Terrapin State judges decide the amount and duration of payments based on the facts of the case as opposed to legal guidelines.
At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, our Columbia spousal support modification lawyers look past the controversies and posturing. Instead, we focus on the circumstances of your case and the law which applies to these facts. We also focus on your legal and financial rights, especially when it comes to spousal support modification. When the facts change, we look for solutions which reflect the new reality and also uphold your rights.
The Different Types of Alimony Modification in Howard County
No divorce or other family law order is set in stone, because things change. Relocations are a good example. If the residential parent moves, it’s usually necessary to adjust the frequency and/or length of the children’s visits with the nonresidential parent. The same thing applies in alimony situations, as there are generally three kinds of modifications:
- Extensions: Most divorce decrees contain periodic alimony payments. Support payments continue for a fixed amount of time, perhaps five or ten years, and they then terminate. It may be possible to extend the length, if the requesting spouse has a compelling legal need. Such requests must be filed well before the term ends. Otherwise, alimony payments terminate by operation of law.
- Terminations: Alimony payments also end if either party dies, the obligee spouse remarries, or termination is necessary to avert a “harsh and inequitable result.” Most termination matters involve the harsh/inequitable result basis.
- Modifications: For the most part, either party may request an increase or decrease in payments. But typically, if one spouse asks for an increase or decrease, the other spouse will ask to extend or terminate payments.
Especially with regard to payment modifications, it’s important to note that informal “side agreements” are unenforceable. For example, if Wife voluntarily agrees to a payment reduction, she could later change her mind and file a motion to collect past-due alimony. In that situation, Husband has no recourse.
Grounds for Spousal Support Modifications in Columbia
In general, the requesting party has the burden of proof to show changed financial circumstances. Some examples include:
- Job change which involves substantially more, or substantially less, money,
- Increased or decreased expenses, and
- Marriage-like relationship which affects family finances.
These changes must be permanent and involuntary. An obligor cannot quit a high-paying job or take early retirement to avoid a spousal support obligation.
Dating relationships are thorny issues as well. Some people claim that some obligees play the system by avoiding remarriage. But not every dating relationship affects financial matters. So, additional discovery is often necessary to determine the truth of the matter.
Mediation or mutual agreement resolves most alimony modification disputes, but some of them do go to trial.
Connect with an Experienced Columbia Spousal Support Modification Lawyer
Alimony changes often have far-reaching consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Columbia, contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Howard County and nearby jurisdictions.