After a divorce, a judge might order that you pay your ex-spouse alimony. The judge will set the amount of alimony you must pay and the frequency (often monthly). What happens if you can no longer afford to make payments? First, you probably shouldn’t stop making payments on your own. Instead, you will need to contact a Georgia divorce lawyer to discuss getting a modification of the alimony order.
Reasons for Modification
A modification is only available if you make periodic alimony payments (as opposed to making a lump sum). You also need a valid reason. A judge won’t grant a modification simply because you are tired of paying alimony or because you hate your ex-spouse. Instead, you should present a legitimate reason, like one of the following:
- You lost your job
- You have retired
- You have become ill or disabled, whether temporarily or permanently
- Your ex now has a job and makes more money
- Your ex has gotten remarried
- Your ex has moved in with another person
This last reason deserves special mention. Sometimes, a spouse receiving alimony will move in with a partner but not get married—all with the intent of continuing to bleed you dry for alimony. You might need your lawyer to investigate this relationship to see if your ex is receiving enough support to warrant a modification. Georgia law does not require that alimony is modified if your ex has moved in with a new partner. However, your ex’s financial position might have improved dramatically because they live with someone else, so it can sometimes be used as a ground for modification.
The Modification Process
If your ex remarries, you can simply stop making alimony payments once the couple steps up to the altar. However, in other situations, you will probably need a court order modifying the alimony award. Your lawyer will file the necessary paperwork in which they explain the change of circumstances that warrants modification. After filing this paperwork, your ex will have a chance to respond, and you might end up having to go to a court hearing on the issue. Your lawyer should prepare you for what to expect and should explain your role at the hearing.
Timing is key. Once you have an alimony award modified, you can’t seek another modification for two years. Consequently, you should talk with your lawyer about whether now is the right time to seek modification now or whether you should wait.
You also need to look at your alimony order to see if a modification is even allowed. Specifically, you might have agreed to waive any right to modification, in which case you are probably stuck. Everything depends on the precise language used in the waiver, so show your alimony award to your lawyer for review.
Contact an Alpharetta, Georgia Family Law Attorney
When life changes, it may be time to seek a modification of your alimony order. At Mitnick & Associates, our lawyers have a combined 25 years helping our clients navigate the family law system, including alimony modifications. We are available to review your case and inform you of your options. Contact us at 770-408-7000 for a consultation or fill out our online contact form. Serving Roswell, Cumming, and Johns Creek.