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Can Spousal Support be Modified After a Divorce?

Published: Dec 25, 2022 in Family Law
Wedding rings on a stack of cash next to a gavel illustrating th question of What Happens to My 401K & Retirement in a PA Divorce?

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Divorces are not uncommon in today’s marriage landscape. Neither is the possibility of spousal support, commonly ordered by Pennsylvania courts during the proceedings.

And usually, the courts set the amount that one spouse owes based on the facts presented to them. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot ask the court to consider updating alimony payments as your situation changes over time.

What are the Types of Spousal Support?

During a divorce, Pennsylvania courts often rule that one party must pay the other party spousal support, alimony, or palimony. While most people think they are different names for the same thing, each is unique.

  • Spousal Support is a payment or payments that you make to a spouse/former spouse for both sustenance and their support before a divorce is finalized
  • Alimony is continuous payments set for a specific period, usually depending on factors such as the length of the marriage and whether there are dependent children
  • Palimony is court-ordered payments between cohabitating partners who never legally married

Long-term or Short-Term Support?

Depending on the type of alimony ordered by the court, you could face long-term payments. For instance, spousal support might last indefinitely: it terminates when a couple reconciles or is converted into alimony pendente lite (APL) after filing a divorce complaint.

APL lasts from when a divorce is filed until a final divorce decree is entered. Because Pennsylvania’s average divorce process takes two years, you might expect APL to continue for two years, but it might be limited, pending the court’s decision.

After a divorce is finalized, the higher earning spouse might be expected to pay alimony, which is usually fixed in length. There are instances when alimony is granted for an indefinite amount of time. However, the alimony may cease automatically if a spouse remarries or dies.

Modifying Alimony

The court makes an alimony decision based on the factors presented during the divorce proceedings. Over time, situations change, and you can investigate changing the amount or frequency of your alimony payments. This includes stopping, increasing, or decreasing alimony.

However, a court only investigates this if a clause was included in the original divorce decree. So, make sure you and a family law attorney read everything thoroughly before you sign any documents.

How do You Modify Alimony?

If modifying alimony is permitted, you must follow the steps outlined by Pennsylvania law.

If Parties Are in Agreement

Send in a written agreement, signed by both parties, which states:

  • The effective date of the modification
  • What is to be modified
  • The net income of both parties
  • A photo ID of each party or have the agreement notarized
  • A telephone number in case there are any questions, or other information is needed.

If Parties Are Not in Agreement

If there is no agreement, one of the parties may file a Petition to Modify, asking the court to schedule a conference to determine whether the support order should be changed. You may be asked to present evidence showing changes in your circumstances.

Call Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, Today

Whether you are trying to change, terminate, or stop spousal support, you need an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the process. The Pittsburgh divorce lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC have represented countless clients like you and make sure you get the help you deserve.

Call (412) 471-5100 now to see if your alimony agreement can be changed.