Divorce is, almost inevitably, a difficult process — logistically, financially, and emotionally. What makes it even harder for many people is that, though they have “completed” the process, life circumstances continue to change and aspects of the divorce agreement often have to be altered. In divorces in which spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) is provided, circumstances frequently arise in which support arrangements have to be changed. Such changes must be made carefully so that they are legally binding and yet alterable if and when circumstances change again.
According to Arizona law, in order for modifications to spousal support to be deemed necessary there has to be “significant, substantial and continuing change of circumstance.” If you believe that this is true in your case, or if you are uncertain whether it is, get in touch with Cohen Family Law as soon as you can. Whether you feel that you are paying too much spousal support, or receiving too little, the more quickly you contact us, the sooner we can offer you the skilled legal representation you require. Our lead attorney Mitchell E. Cohen has a well-earned reputation for being both a tough negotiator and a compassionate ally. He will fight hard to make sure you receive a fair shake.
Reasons for Spousal Maintenance
These days spousal support arrangements are not as common as they once were since both spouses are generally wage earners. Most often spousal maintenance is received by a spouse who is:
- Providing care for the couple’s young children
- Has never worked or been trained to work
- Is elderly, ill or disabled
- Works but earns far less than his or her spouse
Reasons Spousal Maintenance Modifications Are Necessary
There are a number of reasons that spousal support modifications may become necessary. Some are predictable, such as that children grow older, go to school, and become more independent; some may be unexpected, such as an accidental event that changes the divorced couple’s financial landscape entirely.
Below are several reasons you may be seeking to have your divorce agreement modified in terms of one spouse’s contributions to the other:
- The receiving spouse is now in a position to join the workforce
- The supporting spouse has lost his or her job or taken a large pay cut
- The supporting spouse has gotten a substantial raise or bonus
- One of the spouses has become ill or disabled
- A child of the couple has become ill or disabled and needs more parental care
- The receiving spouse requires a cost of living increase
- The receiving spouse is cohabiting with another person
- One spouse has experienced an emergency situation, such as the destruction of his or her home by a storm, or the catastrophic illness of a family member
Your Original Divorce Decree May Have Foreseen the Need for Some Modifications
Being proactive is often the key to avoiding future problems as our office is very much aware.
Cost of Living Adjustment clause (COLA)
If you worked with us, a Cost of Living Adjustment clause will probably have been included as part of the spousal support section of your original divorce decree. Even if you used another attorney at the time of your divorce and that individual did not include this clause in the original document, however, Cohen Family Law can help you. We will work hard to get you a sufficient cost of living increase in a modification request so that you can continue to pay your bills in an increasingly expensive world.
An escalator clause may also have been included at the time we prepared your original divorce decree. Such a clause is very beneficial if the ex-spouse paying support is expected to see his or her earning rise regularly. This clause will automatically increase the receiving spouse’s payments as the paying spouse’s income increases. Once again, even if there was no escalator clause in your original divorce document, we can modify the document to keep you, as the receiving spouse, comfortably afloat.
Unless clauses like those mentioned above have been woven into the fabric of the divorce decree, we will assist you in making the modifications to the spousal maintenance portion of your divorce agreement now so that you continue to be treated fairly. Don’t forget, however, that we are on your side, whichever side that is. If you are the supporting spouse we will make certain that you are not taken advantage of and protect you from a greedy and/or vengeful ex-spouse.
Contact Our Spousal Maintenance Modifications Attorney
Whether you are the payer or recipient of spousal support, Cohen Law Firm will assist you in seeing that any necessary modifications to your divorce agreement are made efficiently and effectively. We will also make certain that we look to the future to ensure that any temporary changes are time-limited and available for review as your circumstances change again. Contact us!