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When Can Alimony Be Modified?

There are three types of alimony changes that can occur, depending on the situation:

  • Change in the amount of alimony paid
  • An extension in the duration of time alimony will be paid
  • Termination of the alimony payments

There can be a change in the amount of alimony that is paid from one former spouse to another when there is a change in circumstances. If the parties previously agreed that the amount of alimony paid out each month will not change, then the terms of the alimony may not be changed unless warranted by justice.

An extension of the time that the alimony will be paid out could be ordered if an extension was not prohibited by the original agreement between the parties.  A petition for extension must be filed with the court before the alimony term expires, otherwise no extension can be granted.

Alimony will terminate upon the passing of either party or if the recipient re-marries. The court could also find that alimony should be terminated to avoid an inequitable result, depending on the decision from the court on the specific circumstances.

While ex-spouses can agree at any time to renegotiate the terms of alimony payments if both agree, a petition must be made if one party wants a change and the other does not.

Under Maryland law, certain circumstances that will convince a judge to order a change in alimony include:

  • If the receiving spouse inherits substantial assets or gifts
  • If one party loses employment or another source of income, such as disability or unemployment benefits
  • If the receiving spouse’s expenses suddenly decrease for any reason
  • If one of the spouses become disabled or injured
  • If the receiving spouse was not able to support themselves
  • If the receiving spouse becomes employed
  • If the paying spouse retires

Both parties must remember that the judge must find that continuing alimony in those specific circumstances would produce a harsh or inequitable result. In the past, judges have found that occurrences such as a receiving spouse finding steady work or a paying spouse retiring would constitute an inequitable result if the alimony were to continue.

Lawyers are often asked whether a receiving spouse’s cohabitation with a new partner can automatically be grounds to terminate alimony. Unless this specific circumstance is addressed in the divorce settlement, it is not automatic grounds to terminate alimony. Yet, if the paying spouse can show that the receiving spouse’s expenses have decreased significantly, that could convince a judge to terminate alimony.

Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC Can Help Address Your Unique Alimony Issues

Since alimony is specific to each situation, a Towson Divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC can assist in addressing many future possibilities in divorce settlements to protect parties in the future. Contact us by phone at 443-589-0150 or online to schedule a consultation today. We have offices in Hunt Valley, and Towson, Maryland, serving clients throughout Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, and Howard Counties. We also serve the towns of Essex, Columbia, and Bel Air.

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