What You Need to Know About Modifying Alimony in New Hampshire
Are you receiving alimony in New Hampshire or have you been paying it to an ex-spouse? Are there now circumstances where you want to have the alimony order modified? If so, arrange a consultation with New Hampshire alimony lawyer Michael F. Mimno at (978) 470-4567.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is currently referred to as spousal maintenance or support. A couple that is legally separated, in a divorce proceeding, or after the divorce may have a spousal maintenance or alimony order in place. Essentially, it is a payment from one spouse to the other who may be financially challenged. Situations where alimony may be awarded are:
- A spouse has sacrificed a career to care for the home, a business or the couple’s children while the other pursues educational or employment opportunities
- An ex- spouse is mentally or physically unable to work
- An ex- spouse is too old to work
- The ex-spouse needs resources to go to school or receive vocational training
- The ex-spouse needs funds to support a special needs child
- Factors in Determining If Alimony is To Be Awarded
In deciding whether to award alimony, the court will look at several factors:
1. Length of the marriage
2. Health and ages of the spouses
3. Economic circumstances of each party
4. Role of a party in staying home to care for the house or children
5. Ability of each party to earn income (job skills, education)
6. What each received in marital property
7. Fault of a party in causing the divorce (adultery, abandonment, domestic violence)
8. The standard of living enjoyed by the parties while married
9. The tax consequences or liabilities for each under the divorce order
Permanent alimony can be awarded in some cases in New Hampshire but it is rare. You may find it awarded if a spouse is too old or incapable of earning an independent living. Most alimony is based on the rehabilitative needs of the recipient spouse to return to school or receive the necessary training to obtain suitable employment.
When Will a Court Modify Alimony?
The standard used by New Hampshire courts if requesting a modification is that you must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances from when the order was issued and that those circumstances either did not exist or were unknown at the time. In seeking a change of modification, consult with an alimony lawyer since these can be difficult to obtain even if you feel the circumstances justify it.
Some of the frequent reasons for seeking a modification include:
Increased Income or Illness
A common request for a modification is that either spouse has significantly increased his or her income . A court may also temporarily increase alimony if the recipient spouse becomes ill or injured and unable to work for several months or loses employment. The modification in these instances may only be temporary. Discuss with your alimony lawyer about seeking an increase under these circumstances.
Completion of Education or Re-Marriage
An alimony order can terminate or be modified when the recipient party has completed schooling or training and has become employed or has re-married. Unless the original court order specifically states that alimony terminates on re-marriage or upon acquiring a degree or employment, you will have to request that it terminate if you are the obligor spouse.
In some rare cases, alimony may continue despite the re-marriage if the recipient spouse is disabled or other special circumstances exist. As the obligor spouse, however, your payments to your ex-spouse will not be affected if you re-marry unless you can demonstrate that you now have new and substantial expenses that greatly impact your new family’s standard of living.
Should the recipient spouse not marry but cohabitates with someone, then the court may consider modification if the party seeking modification can show that that the cohabitating ex-spouse has had his or her financial prospects significantly improved. If the parties are merely dating and maintain separate residences, it is unlikely the court will consider a modification.
Voluntary Job Resignation
If the obligor spouse resigns from employment, refuses an employment opportunity, or voluntarily becomes underemployed, the court will usually continue the alimony obligations of that party to continue while considering that that party still has the ability to earn at least the same amount of income. If that spouse is receiving disability payments, then the court may consider that amount as a source of income under these circumstances. Otherwise, social security disability payments are not considered as income for purposes of determining modification of an order for alimony.
Consult the Law Offices of Michael F. Mimno
Michael F. Mimno is a New Hampshire alimony lawyer who has been representing the interests of family law clients throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts for over 30 years. He and his staff are dedicated advocates for your rights. While an amicable resolution of any family law matter is of first priority, he and his office will not hesitate to litigate on behalf of your interests if needed. Call his New Hampshire office at (978) 470-4567 today for a consultation.