December 17, 2010

Modifying Spousal Support – A Quick Summary

Can I modify my spousal support payment? As Oregon divorce lawyers, we have been getting more and more questions in this economy about if spousal support can be reduced, increased, extended, or even reinstated.  A summary of the law is below, but for a more thorough analysis see our previous posts on the subject ( spousal support modification part 1, part 2, and part 3) on this subject, but a summary is below.

Can spousal support be modified? Yes. In Oregon, spousal support is modifiable. The party seeking the change must show a  substantial, unanticipated change in economic circumstances. You can agree to make spousal support non-modifiable in your divorce judgment, but your divorce judgment must contain a specific waiver of your right to modify support. The reason the court awarded support has a lot to do with how the court will view a motion to modify.

Can spousal support be increased? Yes, but courts generally don’t increase spousal support awards absent extraordinary circumstances, like an ex spouse getting sick or becoming disabled.

Can spousal support payments be reduced? Yes, if the moving party can show a substantial, unanticipated change in their finances.  For example, if the paying ex spouse looses their job, the court may reduce support. Also, if the ex spouse receiving support increases their income, the court may also reduce support.

Can the duration of spousal support be extended or reduced? Yes, if the reason spousal support was awarded no longer exists. For example, if support is ordered to ease a spouse’s transition into the workforce, and they get a good job, support may no loner be necessary, or may be stopped altogether.  Also, if an ex spouse is not yet self sufficient and support is set to terminate, the court may extend the duration of support.

Can spousal support be reinstated after it stops? Yes, if the reason for the termination ceases to exist, and the motion to reinstate is filed during the original duration of the support award.

The above is an overview, and a careful analysis of  your finances, judgment and case  is critical defending or requesting a change in spousal support.   If you have questions about your spousal support rights or obligations and are thinking of modifying, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney about your support award.