Alimony, also known as spousal support, is meant to help the lesser-earning spouse in a relationship remain financially stable as he or she becomes financially independent following a divorce. However, long-term payments of alimony can take a toll on the wealthier spouse over time, especially as circumstances change. So, how do you modify or terminate alimony in Pennsylvania? If you wish to modify or terminate your existing alimony payments, you have legal options.
Pennsylvania law allows for a former spouse to request a modification to an existing alimony order if that spouse can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances for either spouse and that the change is expected to continue into the future. This can include a significant pay raise or demotion, loss of job, relocation to a new city with a significantly higher or lower cost of living, or the addition of children to support. Alimony can also be modified if the wealthier spouse becomes disabled and unable to work, takes early retirement, and is otherwise unable to make the income necessary to continue payments. Smaller changes like a simple cost of living increase is not enough to warrant a modification of payments. An experienced divorce attorney can review your current situation and advise you on whether modification is appropriate for your alimony case in Pennsylvania.
The most common way to terminate alimony is when the spouse receiving alimony payments remarries. This also applies if the spouse receiving alimony starts to cohabitate with another person. Cohabitation is more than someone spending a night or two per week. The couple must share a residence full time, be in a romantic relationship, and share finances. The wealthier spouse paying alimony can petition the court without the other spouse to end alimony payments and may retroactively end payments if payments were made after the remarriage or cohabitation began.
Another reason alimony in Pennsylvania is terminated is when either spouse passes away because the obligation ceases automatically upon their death. The last option for terminating alimony is if it is stipulated in the alimony order that the payments will cease after a certain amount of time or another triggering event.
When Alimony can Not be Modified or Terminated
There is one situation in which alimony can not be modified or terminated in Pennsylvania. If the alimony order does not contain a provision that allows for modification or termination upon remarriage, the alimony order remains in place at the current amount. Almost all alimony provisions in Pennsylvania include language that allows for changes to be made to the order, but be sure to review your order with a divorce attorney before signing away your ability to change the alimony award.
Call or Contact a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney Today
If you have concerns about alimony in a Pennsylvania divorce, an experienced divorce attorney in your area may be able to help. Call or contact the Martin Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.