Can Alimony Be Modified?
The family court’s decree of divorce is intended to be the final word on the various issues involved in the divorce, including property division, child custody, and alimony. The courts, however, recognize that not everything can be set in stone. Life circumstances may change and a set alimony award may become inappropriate in the future. If your alimony arrangement no longer works for you, what are your options? In this article, our experienced Las Vegas divorce attorneys explain the circumstances and how alimony can be modified.
If the decree of divorce stipulates that alimony is non-modifiable, the family courts generally will not consider a petition to change it. The court’s reasoning is based on the fact that both parties agreed to the terms of the decree of divorce including whether an alimony modification should ever be considered. The experience of a Las Vegas divorce attorney is critical in deciding whether to include a non-modifiable clause in a decree of divorce. There are numerous factors to consider including present and possible future financial circumstances. Since no one can accurately predict what will happen in the future, there are risks in both modifiable and non-modifiable alimony.
Nevada law allows a divorced party to seek a modification of an alimony award even after the order is issued and the alimony arrangement has been in place after the final decree of divorce. Absent an agreed upon alimony change by the ex-spouses, a party must petition the court to authorize a change in future alimony payments. They must demonstrate that they have experienced a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification of the order. A family court judge will consider many factors when evaluating a petition to modify an alimony award. At the core, the court will be looking for a change in financial circumstances sufficient to merit modification of the award.
According to NRS 125.150, if the paying party’s income has been reduced by 20 percent or more since the alimony award was issued, they have experienced a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant modification of the order. Even if the paying party’s income has not decreased by a full 20 percent, modification might still be an option. In particular, the court must consider “whether the income of the spouse who is ordered to pay alimony . . . has been reduced to such a level that the spouse is financially unable to pay the amount of alimony the spouse has been ordered to pay.”
If the court finds that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances, the court will undertake an analysis reconsidering all of the factors relevant to the original alimony determination. The first factors considered are the need of the recipient spouse for alimony and the ability of the paying spouse to pay. The court will also consider factors including the length of the marriage, the financial condition of each party, the standard of living during the marriage, whether each spouse obtained specialized education or training during the marriage, the physical and mental condition of each party insofar as it relates to their ability to work, and other relevant issues.
Only Future Alimony Payments
Importantly, the modification provision generally only applies to future payments. If a party has already paid a lump sum in alimony, or if their obligation to pay certain periodic payments has already become due, the law generally prohibits modification. In other words, there is no “grandfather” aspects of payments already made or due.
Get Expert Legal Counsel for Your Alimony Dispute
Talk to one of our divorce attorneys in Las Vegas about your options and learn how to put yourself in the best position to seek a modification of your alimony. Our seasoned alimony modification lawyers are ready to lead you through seeking modification of your alimony. Divorce attorneys Jennifer V. Abrams and Vincent Mayo offer courtesy phone consultations at no charge. Call 702-222-4021 to speak with one of them about your important alimony or other divorce law matter concerns.
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