Life Happens: Establishing The Need for a Change In Spousal Alimony

During a divorce, alimony is often used to ensure that one spouse will not be left scrambling for support or unable to pay the bills. Orders for alimony are usually determined based, in part, on the needs and salaries of the individuals involved at the time. Sometimes, however, those needs and salaries change. Knowing how to successfully request a change in alimony can be an important step in the post-divorce process.

Understanding Alimony

In Iowa, alimony is the payment that one spouse may make to support another after a divorce. For instance, if a spouse stays at home to take care of the kids for the ten years prior to the divorce, a judge may determine that he or she should receive money after the divorce as it will be difficult to obtain a high-paying job, or because he or she has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.

The amount of alimony that should be paid is determined by looking at a wide variety of issues, including:

  • current salaries
  • the standard of living prior to the divorce
  • the cost and expense of raising kids for the primary custodian
  • the tax consequences of the alimony payment
  • how long the couple was married
  • the education and training level of each of the parties
  • prior income history
  • the health of the parties

Based on all of these factors, and any other relevant information, the court may award a temporary, short-term, or permanent alimony payment.

Changing Needs, Changing Alimony

Whether short term support of a couple of years is awarded, or longer-term permanent support is deemed necessary, changes in circumstances can arise that make it difficult for the paying ex-spouse to continue to make payments, or for the receiving spouse to live off the payments being made.

Iowa courts permit divorcees to request modifications to alimony when there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” This standard is taken very seriously and courts do not change alimony payments lightly. A substantial change in circumstances does not include the desire to move into a bigger house, the need for more vacations, or wanting to live a care-free lifestyle. Substantial changes can include:

  • Losing a job
  • Developing a medical issue that prevents one individual from working or contributing
  • Having to move due to work or other life changes and the associated change in cost of living

Before you make a request to modify the alimony payments you make or the amount you receive, it is very important that you gather all of the documentation that you need to establish that a substantial change has occurred. Your judge will likely ask you for updated financial records and employment information to substantiate your request.

If you are claiming a substantial change based on medical illness, be prepared to show documentation of the extent of your illness and how it has affected your ability to work. Likewise, if a major life change is the basis for your request, you will need to show the court why the change was not just a discretionary decision.

Working with Jonathan D. Schmidt to Make Your Alimony Modification Request

Divorce attorneys understand the types of circumstances that are likely to justify a change in alimony, and those that may be more difficult to prove. Working with an experienced and compassionate advocate like Jonathan D. Schmidt can help you to prepare the best case you can for your change in alimony request. For more information contact us online or at (319) 774-6078.