Can Alimony Be Changed After Divorce?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is an aspect in some divorces. Alimony is not always granted but can be, especially when one spouse has a significantly higher income. In Nevada, alimony awarded at the end of a divorce proceeding is generally categorized in one of three ways: permanent, temporary, or rehabilitative.
Temporary alimony typically has a defined amount and set end date or triggering event; for example, $2500 per month for three years. Rehabilitative alimony is meant to provide support for an ex-spouse while they get the education or training necessary to get a job and support themselves. Permanent alimony typically does not have a specific end date or event, with the exceptions of death or remarriage of the receiving ex-spouse. Regardless of the type of alimony awarded, is it possible to change alimony after divorce?
Alimony Change of Circumstances
Regardless of when alimony is set to end, an ex-spouse paying alimony can seek to reduce or terminate their support obligation through a showing of changed circumstances. A party may also petition the court if they uncover fraud or mistake. NRS 125.150 defines the laws regarding alimony and the associated three year limitation to file a petition for change in alimony based on fraud or mistake.
Changed circumstances involve some unexpected life event that affects the party’s ability to continue paying support, or the receiving party’s need for support. Typically, changed circumstances involve either significant unexpected expenses (such as a serious injury or illness), or significant changes to the payor’s income such as a job loss. As a benchmark, a change in the payor’s income by 20 percent or more will be a change of circumstances sufficient to seek modification of alimony.
Assuming the paying party shows a changed circumstance sufficient to justify modifying alimony, the court will weigh the factors it originally considered when granting alimony in order to establish whether alimony should be modified or terminated. These factors include the financial condition and property of each spouse; each spouse’s earning capacity, the standard of living during the marriage, and other factors. The court will also consider whether the reduction in the payor’s income was by choice, i.e., if they are intentionally unemployed or underemployed, or out of the payor’s control, such as a job loss. Petitions for modification must be in good faith, and a party cannot intentionally reduce their own income just to pay less alimony.
Alimony Changes and Cohabitation
Most divorce lawyers in Las Vegas will include a clause in the final decree of divorce where alimony will end when the recipient gets remarried. What is less common is a clause in the decree where alimony arrangements will end upon the recipient’s cohabitation with a new partner. As a general rule, family court judges do not want to force a former spouse to continue paying an ex when they now have someone else to support them. Nor do they want to force a former spouse to subsidize the life of their ex’s new spouse.
Cohabitation occurs when a party begins to reside with a new romantic partner. Knowledgeable divorce attorneys understand the possible temporary nature of cohabitation and often will not agree to include any alimony termination provisions in the decree of divorce based on cohabitation. Nonetheless, a party may petition the court for an end to alimony if the recipient is being financially supported by a cohabitating partner, even before remarriage. Even parties who maintain a separate residence may still be “cohabitating” if they reside together most of the time and there is financial commingling. Your divorce attorney should gather evidence to demonstrate cohabitation if it is not obvious on its face.
Speak With a Las Vegas Alimony Attorney
If you are seeking to reduce or stop your alimony obligation, or if you are receiving alimony and need additional funds, our knowledgeable divorce lawyers are ready to help. We are here to guide you through the process and fight to protect your family, your interests, and your well-being. Las Vegas alimony attorneys Jennifer V. Abrams and Vincent Mayo offer courtesy phone consultations at no charge. Call 702-222-4021 to speak directly with one of them about your alimony or other divorce law concerns.
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