What Is the Process for Modifying Alimony?
Alimony is typically a short-term source of financial support one spouse pays to the other spouse in need. Alimony can be modified under certain circumstances. The process for modifying alimony will depend on whether or not you and your spouse agree on the terms of the modification and the reason for the modification request. Alimony may be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances. In other words, there needs to have been a significant change in you or your spouse’s income or financial need for an alimony modification to be granted. You may also modify alimony if the new alimony law changes the duration of alimony you have to pay.
Alimony laws were reformed in Massachusetts in 2012. Alimony is categorized differently under the reform, and each type of alimony has new time limits. You may be able to modify your existing order if your alimony duration would be shorter under the new law.
You and your spouse can modify your alimony through a simplified, administrative process if you have worked out an agreement. This process requires you to file certain forms with the court and pay a fee. You will need to file a complaint for modification of alimony with the court if you do not agree with your spouse. After filing the complaint, you will have to serve your spouse with the papers. Your spouse then has 20 days to respond to the complaint.
This process will involve the court and may take a little longer. Consider working with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator if you wish to avoid having to file a complaint through the court. A skilled mediator can help you and your spouse modify your alimony on your own terms. This can save you the cost and stress of going through the complaint process. You will still need your modification agreement to the court for the judge to review for it to be legal and enforceable. A judge must review it to make sure the alimony is modifiable under the existing order and is in accordance with the law. Alimony may not be modified at all if the existing order explicitly prohibits future modifications. Speak with a divorce mediator to better understand what your options are in your specific case.
If you have questions about modifying an existing alimony order, Mediation Advantage Services can help you. Polly A. Tatum is experienced in divorce mediation and can help you successfully modify your alimony order through guided and non-adversarial mediation. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson.
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