Can Alimony Be Changed After Divorce?

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Alimony
This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
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After divorce proceedings commence, one or both parties involved may experience a change in circumstances. In these cases, it is possible to change alimony after a divorce. If you want to change alimony after a divorce, a family law attorney can help.

Explaining Alimony

There are some misconceptions about what alimony is. First, alimony is simply an allowance given to one spouse by the other to support them after a divorce. Alimony is not a way to equalize a divorced couple’s financial situation. It is just meant to ensure each spouse can meet their basic needs.

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Types of Alimony

There are three types of alimony in Alabama: interim alimony, rehabilitative support (periodic alimony), and permanent alimony.

Interim Alimony

Interim alimony is only paid during the divorce proceedings and stops once the divorce is final. AL Code § 30-2-56 states that to receive interim alimony, you must show:

  • You maintain the validity of the marriage.
  • You have a significant need for interim alimony.
  • The paying spouse can pay temporary maintenance.

Rehabilitative Support 

Once the court grants the divorce or legal separation, it might order rehabilitative support (or periodic alimony) per AL Code § 30-2-57 if the judge finds:

  • The receiving party does not have the financial means to maintain “the economic status quo of the parties as it existed during the marriage.”
  • The paying party can support the receiving party without causing them any financial hardship.
  • It is equitable due to “the circumstances of the case.”

The courts usually provide rehabilitative alimony for a limited duration—not to exceed five years. However, if the receiving party makes a good faith effort to get to their previous economic status and cannot, they could receive periodic installments if needed. Evidence the court will review to determine if regular installments are necessary include:

  • The receiving party’s assets
  • The marital property they received
  • Their liabilities following distribution of marital assets
  • Any benefits that will help the receiving party gain employment
  • Their net income or wage-earning ability

Because periodic alimony is only supposed to last for a definite period, it is essential for the receiving spouse to actively search for ways to earn an income independently.

Permanent Alimony

Courts usually award permanent alimony to spouses who have been together for a long time. This type of alimony is generally given when one spouse was financially dependent on the other. For example, if one spouse stayed home and took care of the home while the other worked and was the family’s only source of income, the spouse remaining at home might receive permanent alimony.

Reasons Alimony Could Be Changed After Divorce

Permanent alimony is the most likely type of alimony that people seek to change. Usually, this type of alimony is paid until one of the spouses dies. Since these payments can last for a long time, the payor might eventually want to look into reducing or terminating the alimony payments.

The Receiving Spouse Remarries or Is Cohabitating

AL Code § 30-2-55 allows for alimony to be terminated if the receiving spouse remarries or “is living openly or cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex.” Cohabitating is when two unmarried people live together similarly to a married couple.

In this situation, you must prove that the receiving spouse is cohabitating to terminate alimony. Sometimes, an investigation is necessary to confirm this living arrangement. Evidence you may need includes:

  • Bank or credit card statements
  • Leases or mortgage documents
  • Utility bills
  • Photographs or video surveillance
  • Social media posts

You Can Petition to Modify the Divorce Agreement

You can file a petition to modify the alimony agreement with the court after your divorce becomes finalized. Then, if both parties agree to the change, a judge will grant the modification, making it a relatively straightforward request.

Otherwise, you must prove there has been a change of circumstances to one or both parties involved. You will need to provide documentation showing why you believe the current alimony agreement is unfair and requires adjustments.

Reasons to petition for a modification include:

  • One or both spouses’ income has changed significantly.
  • One spouse has become disabled.

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The Attorneys at Charlotte Christian Law Can Help You Change Alimony After Divorce

At Charlotte Christian Law, we know that divorces aren’t always fair. Thus, we will work tirelessly to guide you through the process and ensure you receive fair treatment from the court. We aim to leave our clients better than we found them. As a result, we have saved past clients millions of dollars.

If you want to change an alimony agreement after your divorce decree is finalized, our attorneys can help. Contact us today using our contact form. We will meet with you to review your case and answer your questions.

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