If there is a court order or divorce agreement that is incorporated and merged into the judgment for divorce, then you may be able to modify your alimony order. In order to modify alimony, you have a substantial and material change in circumstance that impacts either your ability to pay alimony or your need an increased amount of alimony.
In order to modify alimony, you must file a complaint for modification to seek change (increase or decrease) or termination of alimony. Remember, there must be a substantial and material change in circumstance in order to modify alimony.
If alimony is set to terminate, the recipient spouse can seek an extension of alimony if they can prove “compelling circumstances”. It is important to note that rehabilitative alimony orders are more difficult to modify.
Examples of these compelling circumstances are:
- Unforeseen events prevent the recipient spouse from being self-supporting at the end of the term with due consideration to the length of the marriage;
- The court finds that the recipient tried to become self-supporting; and
- The payor is able to pay without undue burden.
The court may modify the amount of periodic rehabilitative alimony based on material change of circumstance within the rehabilitative period, which is a maximum of 5 years.
Since the Alimony Reform Act was enacted on March 1, 2012, there have been many cases sent to the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court for clarification of some of the more ambiguous language and interpretation of this new law. It is important to review the specific facts of your case with an experience and knowledgeable family law attorney to determine your best options and strategies for proceeding