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Is an alimony order set in stone?

Are you divorced or preparing to end your marriage? Do you have concerns about alimony? If so, you are not alone. Numerous Maryland residents want to know if they can get spousal support or if they will have to pay it, and if any order issued is set in stone.

The truth is, no, an alimony order is not set in stone. The court can adjust it, under the right circumstances. Two acceptable reasons to request an alimony modification include:

  • Increase in living expenses
  • Change in monetary or personal circumstances

When these things happen, former spouses can either negotiate new support terms on their own or they can take the matter to court. Either way, it is best to have a judge sign off on the new alimony agreement so that it becomes legally enforceable.

Increase in living expenses

There are two ways to go about adjusting an alimony order due to experiencing an increase in living expenses. First, if getting divorced, you may want to include a cost of living clause in your divorce settlement. This will simply state that a payee's support amount will increase as cost of living expenses increase. Including this clause may prevent the need to actually file for a support modification -- which would be the other way to go about this. Those already divorced may have to file an official adjustment request.

Change in monetary or personal circumstances

Life happens, circumstances change, and sometimes, there is a need to increase or decrease the alimony amount one pays or receives. A few circumstantial changes that warrant the adjustment of a spousal support order include:

  • Income change
  • Financial emergency
  • Cohabitation
  • Getting remarried
  • Disability

If you pay alimony and no longer have the income necessary to meet your obligation, due to job loss, income change, disability or other support obligations, it may be possible to have the amount you owe decreased. If you are on the receiving end and if you experience hardship, you may have the amount awarded to you increased. If, however, you get remarried or enter a relationship in which you are living with your new significant other, the amount awarded you may decrease.

Help seeking alimony adjustments is available

Seeking an alimony adjustment seems like it would be pretty easy and straightforward. It actually is not. The courts are not going to award a support modification without good cause and proof that it is really necessary. With assistance, it may be possible to negotiate or renegotiate an alimony order. If negotiations fail, the matter may go to court for a judge to decide if a modification is appropriate.

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