Modifying Alimony in Connecticut
Years after divorce, it is not uncommon for ex-spouses to have to revisit certain terms of the divorce agreement. Alimony is something that often needs modifying, especially if an ex-spouse loses a significant amount of income or shift careers. Any sudden and severe economic downturn will often result in a spike of alimony modification requests as many individuals are laid off, furloughed, or have their working hours reduced.
Other circumstances that might warrant a modification to alimony include a new, chronic illness or medical condition, or retirement. Once alimony has been ordered in your case, the state of Connecticut will typically provide what is called an “income withholding order.” This often means your employer will automatically deduct alimony from your pay.
Ways to Modify Alimony
- Show the court that you experienced a “significant change in circumstances” since the alimony order was created or last modified. To determine whether or not you experienced a substantial change, the judge will look at your financial situation when alimony was last ordered and compare it to your current situation.
- The alimony recipient may lose the right to payments if he or she remarries or begins living with a roommate and the recipient no longer has the same needs for alimony as when it was last ordered.
- Both spouses may agree in writing to a new alimony agreement; however, this new agreement must still be court-approved. An agreement may be extended for the duration of the alimony term, or be for a temporary period when, for example, a payor is furloughed or looking for a new job.
Importantly, a court may make its order retroactive to the date an alimony modification motion was filed and served thereby providing the payor with a credit. Absent such a court order, the payor is not entitled to unilaterally reduce court-ordered alimony; however, if you lost your job or ability to pay – you should discuss your exposure with an experienced attorney. Occasionally, divorcing spouses are prohibited from seeking an alimony modification due to a provision in their divorce agreement; however, this is exceedingly rare.
Although your ability to pay alimony may be severely hampered before you are able to get a modification, you should not stop paying the court-ordered amount. Additionally, you should not assume that you can change your alimony amount without court approval. Non-compliance with court-ordered alimony can result in your having to pay fines or spend time in jail (in extreme cases).
The burden of proof is on you to satisfactorily show the court that you are entitled to an alimony modification. Even if, for example, you were to prove that you experienced a significant change in circumstances, the court might determine that a modification is not appropriate on account of other statutory factors that govern alimony. This is why it is crucial to have a knowledgeable family law attorney review your situation and represent you in court.
For help securing an alimony modification or with any other family law matter, call McConnell Family Law Group at 860-266-1166 or 203-344-7007. We can help you find peace through strength with our thorough, thoughtful, and aggressive approach.