Modifying Spousal Support – A Quick Summary

Can I modify my spousal support payment? As Oregon divorce lawyers, we have been getting more and more questions in this economy about if spousal support can be reduced, increased, extended, or even reinstated.  A summary of the law is below, but for a more thorough analysis see our previous posts on the subject ( spousal support modification part 1, part 2, and part 3) on this subject, but a summary is below.

Can spousal support be modified? Yes. In Oregon, spousal support is modifiable. The party seeking the change must show a  substantial, unanticipated change in economic circumstances. You can agree to make spousal support non-modifiable in your divorce judgment, but your divorce judgment must contain a specific waiver of your right to modify support. The reason the court awarded support has a lot to do with how the court will view a motion to modify.

Can spousal support be increased? Yes, but courts generally don’t increase spousal support awards absent extraordinary circumstances, like an ex spouse getting sick or becoming disabled.

Can spousal support payments be reduced? Yes, if the moving party can show a substantial, unanticipated change in their finances.  For example, if the paying ex spouse looses their job, the court may reduce support. Also, if the ex spouse receiving support increases their income, the court may also reduce support.

Can the duration of spousal support be extended or reduced? Yes, if the reason spousal support was awarded no longer exists. For example, if support is ordered to ease a spouse’s transition into the workforce, and they get a good job, support may no loner be necessary, or may be stopped altogether.  Also, if an ex spouse is not yet self sufficient and support is set to terminate, the court may extend the duration of support.

Can spousal support be reinstated after it stops? Yes, if the reason for the termination ceases to exist, and the motion to reinstate is filed during the original duration of the support award.

The above is an overview, and a careful analysis of  your finances, judgment and case  is critical defending or requesting a change in spousal support.   If you have questions about your spousal support rights or obligations and are thinking of modifying, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney about your support award.

About Sean Stephens

By Sean Stephens Google + Sean Stephens is divorce and family law lawyer, and a founding member of Stephens & Margolin LLP He was born in Eugene, Oregon and is a fourth generation Oregonian. Sean Stephens attended the University of Oregon, and graduated in with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in English Literature. His psychology studies emphasized early childhood development. You can find more about Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP Follow him
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5 Responses to Modifying Spousal Support – A Quick Summary

  1. Pingback: Modifying Spousal Support – A Quick Summary

  2. For the moving spouse, proving that a substantial, unanticipated change in economic circumstances has occured is not hard to do.

  3. Dena says:

    My husband was ordered to pay spousal support of $950.50 a month (the same as his child support that he has to pay monthly). So in all, what is deducted from his check monthly is $1901.oo. His take-home pay is $816.36 every two weeks. It has been over 2 years that this has gone on and we are struggling to make ends meet. When they went to court for the divorce, she used my husband’s income as her sole support. What she negleted to tell the court is that she had 2 (possibly 3) jobs doing home health care. My husband told me after court that both attorneys (his and hers) wanted him to take out a life insurance policy with her as the benificary so if he ever became late on his payments, there would be that to fall back on. He got screwed all the way around. I would really appreciate your advice on what my husband should do to get this reduced or stopped.

  4. kim says:

    My dads ex wife is wanting go modify an increase of 200.00. I think she is using disable from an injury that took place during there divorce. Although she stated to the judge she was able to do schooling and volenteer work, but unable to work.
    My dad is 74 and she is 53. He receives a small pension and social securtiy and no increase since judgment. Does she have a chance? He is still paying on the lawyer from divorce.

  5. Mrs. Lost says:

    My husband was black mailed and threatned into paying spousal support. His ex admits to not only this but only marrying him for his money to begin with. They were only married for a year and a half and were seperated for 6 months of that. At first she was not working, but now has three incomes on top of alimony. She also has him paying her car payment and insurance. She has hurt his business by making false claims about him all over the internet, resulting in less business. He has lost (on average) 25% of his pay. She has harassed us non-stop for almost a year and is now giving out our home address to people she gets to threaten us. She also admits to stalking us and our home. We are facing bankruptcy now and are getting sued left and right by cards she ran up and the house she trashed. She took everything, sold it, gave it away and destroyed what little was left… had her kids kick holes in the walls, poured wax and other things all over the white carpet, smeared things on the walls. Paying her undeserved alimony is killing us financialy. On top of all of this she is living with one of her son’s fathers, in a long term relationship and only holding out on marriage so my husband will have to continue to pay. We are in dire need of a good attorney. This has to stop, please help. Can we get turned in the right direction?

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