Circumstances can change considerably in the months and years after your divorce, for both you and your spouse. New jobs, new relationships, relocation to another town, and other matters may impact various aspects of your life – especially your financial condition. A divorce court’s order on spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony, may no longer be appropriate for your situation and that of your former spouse. The Michigan divorce statute anticipates that a change in circumstances is likely, and so it includes provisions for modifying the terms. By following proper procedures and filing relevant documents with the court, respective spouses can petition for a spousal support modification. While you should discuss the specifics of your matter with a lawyer that handles post-judgment modifications in Michigan, some general information should be helpful.
State Law on Alimony Modification
Upon the petition of a party, Michigan law allows a court to revise and alter a judgment regarding any of the matters that a judge may have ordered in the original action – including alimony. Both recipient of alimony or the payor have standing to file the request to increase, decrease, or terminate spousal support payments.
However, in order to prove a legal basis for modification, the petitioning party must establish a change of circumstances or new facts that arose after the original divorce decree. Some claims that might support a petition to revise spousal support include:
- A job change that results in the recipient earning more money or the payor making less income;
- Retirement of one of the parties;
- A health issue that results in medical disability, impairing either party’s ability to work;
- The death of one of the parties;
- Remarriage of one of the parties;
- Cohabitation by one of the parties, provided that the individual is actually living in a residence with another person, for a sustained duration, and is sharing typical day-to-day expenses; and,
- Other factors that the court may consider on a case-by-case basis.
After filing the petition and allowing the other party to respond, Michigan law requires the court to conduct a hearing on whether post-judgment modification of alimony is proper. Both parties are allowed to present facts, testimony, and argument to support their position.
Consult with an Attorney with Experience in Post-Judgment Modifications
When your situation changes after a divorce and the alimony arrangement is no longer suitable, talk to a Michigan lawyer about changing the terms of the order. The process is complex and requires specific proof for modification, so you’ll need the guidance and advise of an experienced attorney. Keep in mind that state law allows either former spouse to petition for changes – whether you’re the recipient of spousal maintenance or the one paying it. Attorney Michael A. Robbins has represented clients on both sides of the post-judgment modification issue, so he can help you navigate the process in court. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI office.