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Post-divorce modifications and alimony payments

A court order for spousal support, as we've been discussing in recent posts here on our Dallas family law blog, is not a matter to be taken lightly. Non-payment may lead to a finding of civil contempt of court, with the possibility of jail time as a result.

However, the law recognizes that a couple's financial circumstances at the time of a divorce can and very likely will change, perhaps even drastically, in the years and decades to come after the end of a marriage. That's why a post-divorce modification may be an option if a spouse paying alimony encounters serious obstacles to making the court-ordered payments. Let's take a quick look at this option, with the understanding that this constitutes general information only and not specific legal advice.

To take what is historically the most common example, say a working husband and a stay-at-home mother are getting a divorce. A court order for alimony is entered, with the ex-husband making monthly payments to the wife based in part on the salary he earns and has earned during the marriage. After a few years, his company goes bankrupt and he's out of a job. Alimony suddenly becomes much more difficult to pay without that source of income.

This is an example of when a court may consider a request for a post-divorce modification to the spousal support order. Other examples include a serious illness or injury to the paying spouse. Or, say the recipient spouse remarries a wealthy partner, or experiences a sudden windfall (perhaps from an investment or inheritance). An ex paying alimony may request a post-divorce modification to take the new financial reality into account.

Of course, it may also work the other way. An ex receiving alimony may ask the court to increase the payments if the paying spouse experiences a boost in financial circumstances. An experienced Dallas post-divorce modifications attorney is an important ally in either case. After all, a court may consider an agreement modification, may grant it in full, in part or not at all based on the strength of the argument and the evidence.

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