Can Spousal Support be modified? What about a Change in Circumstance? What about Retirement?
Your divorce has been finalized. Spousal support payments are being paid monthly on the agreed upon date in your decree or legal separation. The upcoming date of the next check is approaching and you wonder, can my spousal support be modified? What if there is a change of circumstance? What happens upon retirement?
Whether spousal support can be modified depends on the language and date of the settlement agreement or decree. Generally, spousal support can be modified only if the decree or agreement included language reserving the court’s jurisdiction to do so. If the court finds that spousal support is justified, it must determine reasonableness based on statutory elements. In Ohio, spousal support may last indefinitely, may be modified up or down depending on the language in the decree, or terminate upon a certain date or specific event.
Can a court determine if retirement is a substantial change of circumstance?
The Ohio Revised Code 3105.18(D) states “In an action brought solely for an order for legal separation under section 3105.17 of the Revised Code, any continuing order for periodic payments of money entered pursuant to this section is subject to further order of the court upon changed circumstances of either party.”
R.C. 3105.18(F) states:
A change in the circumstance of a party includes, but is not limited to, any increase or involuntary decrease in the party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses, or other changed circumstances so long as the change in circumstances is substantial and makes the existing award no longer reasonable and appropriate and the change in circumstances was not taken into account by the parties or the court as a basis for the existing award when it was established or last modified, whether or not the change in circumstances was foreseeable.
If you are seeking a modification in spousal support due to a change in circumstance, whether such change is due to a retirement, loss of job, request for higher support, or request for payment of a lower support, a motion must be filed with the Court to get the process started. The change in the amount of spousal support will not be considered by the court until the Motion is filed, and the court will not go back in time to make the change, but will consider the change from the date of filing of the Motion, forward. Therefore, Time is of the essence and the motion must be filed as soon as it becomes apparent that it is necessary.
Contacting an attorney with experience is the key. Doing it correctly in the first place is critical. If your divorce has been finalized and you are wondering about modification of spousal support, or if you are contemplating a divorce and concerned about spousal support, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Learn more about the divorce attorneys at Joseph & Joseph.