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Can I Modify my Alimony in KY?

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When a couple gets divorced, one spouse is often obligated to pay alimony to the other. Also known as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance”, alimony is usually awarded in cases when the couple has been married for a number of years and there is a major disparity between the incomes of the two spouses.

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum or a series of payments over a specified period of time.  The award may be temporary or permanent, depending on the specific circumstances in the case. For example, sometimes, temporary maintenance is needed to give the recipient spouse time to obtain the schooling and/or training needed to reenter the workforce. Other times, ongoing spousal support is necessary in order for the recipient spouse to maintain, as closely as possible, the established standard of living when the couple was married.

As time goes on, circumstances are likely to change. And some of these changes could greatly impact the financial situation of either party. When this happens, one of the ex-spouses may want to revisit the original divorce decree or settlement and seek a modification of spousal support.

When can Alimony be Modified in Kentucky?

It is possible to modify spousal support in Kentucky, but it may not be easy. To seek a modification, there must be a “material change in circumstance” that is ongoing and has made the original alimony award unwarranted or unreasonable. This is a difficult standard to meet, although not impossible.

There are many as life changes that may qualify under this standard, but you must also be prepared to present a strong case to the family court and effectively articulate the reasons why alimony should be modified. Some of the circumstances in which a court may approve a modification of spousal support include:

  • Loss of Job: If the payor spouse loses his or her job, this of course would make it very difficult to maintain alimony payments to the recipient spouse. If, on the other hand, the recipient spouse loses his or her job, they may ask for an increase in support. 
  • Illness or Disability: If the payor spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, this can result in a permanent inability to work, as well as high medical bills. With this type of situation, it can be strongly argued that this spouse can no longer afford to pay the same level of alimony, or in some cases, any alimony at all. And if the recipient spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, they could argue for an increase in support.
  • New Obligations: New obligations could affect the ability of the payor spouse to maintain the current level of support. One common example is if this spouse has a new child with another partner who needs to be supported.
  • Retirement: Retirement might cause a significant and permanent change in financial circumstances. However, courts do not always see this as a qualifying modification event. As with most other situations, the success of a modification petition due to retirement depends on the specific circumstances and the strength of the arguments presented to the court.

When is Alimony Automatically Terminated?

There are some instances when spousal support automatically comes to an end. The death of either spouse is one such event, as well as the remarriage of the recipient spouse. It is important to note that although cohabitation (on the part of the recipient spouse) may provide grounds to modify or eliminate alimony, this does not happen automatically. It must be determined by the court based on how long the couple has been cohabitating, as well as any provisions written into the divorce settlement that address this issue.

It is also important to note that lump-sum alimony cannot be terminated. A payor spouse cannot be reimbursed for alimony that he or she has already paid in the past, they can only adjust or eliminate the support payments going forward. The only possible exception to this rule would be fraud.

Need Legal Help with Alimony Modification in Kentucky? Call the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at John H Ruby and Associates

Spousal support is an important part of a divorce settlement, but sometimes, there is a need to modify the amount that is paid based on the most current circumstances. If you need to go back to court to deal with a modification of alimony, you need skilled legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, we have many years of experience representing clients for divorces and all other family legal matters in Kentucky. We have extensive knowledge of the state’s alimony laws, and what factors the court looks at for both awarding and modifying spousal support payments.

To schedule a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 502-895-2626. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Louisville office in person at your convenience.