3 times someone can modify a spousal maintenance order

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Spousal Support

Financial disagreements are often the biggest challenge during Washington divorce proceedings. Spouses frequently have differing ideas about what property division and financial support terms are appropriate given the household circumstances.

Spouses frequently fight over property division matters. They could also become embroiled in a dispute related to spousal maintenance. Referred to as alimony in many other states, spousal maintenance involves one spouse making regular payments to the other to ensure financial fairness in the Washington divorce. Typically, payments last for a set amount of time based on the circumstances of the marriage.

When can someone potentially request a maintenance modification that could potentially change the amount of maintenance paid or the duration of their order?

When the recipient remarries

One of the most common reasons for people to revisit existing maintenance orders is a change in marital status. When the recipient who depends on spousal maintenance remarries, the courts may agree to end the maintenance required from the other spouse. A dependent spouse who remarries should rely on their new spouse, not their former spouse, to pay their basic cost-of-living expenses.

When the recipient becomes independent

The party paying maintenance has an obligation because of their economic circumstances. When one spouse has sacrificed their earning potential for the sake of the marriage, the other may augment their standard of living with payments. Once someone redevelops their career and starts earning a competitive wage, maintenance payments are no longer necessary. Proving that someone’s circumstances have changed due to good fortune and increased income could be enough to terminate spousal maintenance early in Washington in some cases.

Financial challenges for the party paying

The spouse paying maintenance could very well experience financial challenges that could affect their ability to continue making payments. If someone loses their job or gets demoted and experiences a reduction in their earning potential, they may need to request that the courts modify their maintenance obligations. While the courts don’t automatically terminate maintenance payments because the payer’s income drops, they may reduce how much someone has to pay every month so that they don’t fall behind on their obligations.

Requesting a formal modification can potentially help to protect someone’s finances and ensure they remain compliant with a spousal maintenance order in Washington.