There are so many twists and turns to a divorce that it can be exhausting to keep up. When divorce has consumed your life, it’s understandable that you just want to put it all behind you as quickly as possible. Being able to get on with your life may require your financial situation to improve.
For many people going through divorce, the financial side is terrifying, especially if you have been a stay-at-home spouse or parent for many years. If you’ve been out of the work force for a while, your skills may be rusty, or even so obsolete that you’re hindered from easily supporting yourself. You’re almost certain to make a claim for spousal support, also called alimony, as a necessity to restart your life on your own. Alimony, however, is not set in stone. There may come a time where you or your spouse has reason to ask the court for a modification of spousal support.
Can spousal support be modified in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina General Statute § 50-16.9, any order for alimony or postseparation support may be modified by either party based on filing a motion with the court showing there has been a change in circumstances. Basically, if you or your spouse has a legitimate reason for needing to ask for an increase or decrease in support payments, you can do so.
Your family law attorney can educate you as to whether your reason for the change would warrant the time and expense to request the order modification. Simply feeling like you didn’t get as much as you want likely won’t be enough to win.
Situations that can trigger your spouse to request a modification include:
- As the recipient spouse, if you have obtained suitable employment or a significant raise in income from your current job, your spouse can request a downward modification to lower your support payments based on the fact that you may no longer be in need, and the payor spouse is suffering a financial hardship by having to continue supporting you.
- If you have failed to comply with the terms of the order granting spousal support, such as completing an educational program that would allow you to become self-supporting, you risk losing your financial support. Your spouse has the right to request a downward modification of support, or even eliminate your payments all together if he or she can show that you have acted in bad faith.
- When your spouse has a significant increase in income, as the recipient spouse, you have the right to request an upward modification to increase your amount of financial support. This often occurs when the payor spouse has reaped the benefits of the recipient spouse’s efforts during the marriage that allowed the payor spouse to succeed in his or her career.
- Cost of living increases give both parties grounds to request a modification of alimony. If the payor spouse has involuntary increased expenses, such as a mortgage interest rate increase, he or she can request a downward modification of alimony payments to help balance out his or her budget. In the same breath, the spouse relying upon alimony who has increased expenses that are out of his or her control can request an upward modification to help cover the adjustment.
It’s all in the alimony factors
Aside from ordinary circumstances of life and terms of the order that offer you reasons to modify a spousal support order, the alimony factors themselves may help you determine whether you have a valid request.
Any of the statutory factors that applied to the judge’s decision to award alimony can be revisited when asking for a modification. Maybe you discovered after the fact that your spouse hid valuable assets from you before the alimony award was made. Depending upon which spouse you are, you could have a legitimate reason to be awarded an increase or decrease in alimony.
There are many reasons a party may request a modification of an order for spousal support. If you can prove that you have good cause for your request and the court believes it to be fair, you may be able to ease your financial position.
The Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC are resolute in our representation of our clients who have been unfairly treated during their divorce and need skilled legal help in a professional and caring manner. To schedule your consultation in our Charlotte, Boone or Weddington office, call 704-321-0031 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.