"You need to be able to protect yourself long-term, and that requires properly illustrating to the courts why modification or termination of alimony is necessary."
When you have been paying alimony for a long time, it can make your bank account feel like a boat, attempting to stay afloat. However, the boat is leaking slowly, and no matter how many different supplies you may have, you do not have anything to plug that particular leak.
Given the fact that alimony is guided by state law, modifying alimony payments assigned in court requires an understanding of how alimony is typically determined, as well as an understanding of the alimony-related laws in your state. This is in contrast to alimony agreed upon between the two parties outside of court, which make any type of modification or termination to fall under the jurisdiction of contract law.
Typically, the financial need of the spouse that makes less money is what is under consideration, but from a theoretical perspective, there are many different ways of looking at the situation. One of them is utilizing the rehabilitative theory.
The theory states that the courts will determine what the need is to rehabilitate the party seeking alimony, in order to put them in a financial position similar to where they were before or during the marriage.
Over time, paying alimony to a financially-recovered ex-spouse can be damaging for your own financial future. Many look to modify or even terminate the act of paying alimony.
The burden of proof
Two of the most common reasons for doing so are the death of either party or the remarriage of the ex-spouse receiving alimony. However, remarriage is not an automatic guarantee that will allow for the modification or termination of the alimony payments.
After a remarriage, the receiver of the alimony payments can petition the court to continue to receive alimony. It becomes the receiver’s burden to show the courts that they have a continued need to receive alimony, even though they have remarried.
This burden of proof is especially difficult to prove, given the fact that the court is going to assume that as someone who has remarried, they already are receiving financial support from their new spouse.
The significant change
Others look to modify payments, in order to cut down how much is being taken from their current accounts. This is done in order to help the payor recover, and help them regain the financial setbacks that divorce and alimony can create.
In order to modify alimony payments, you, as the paying party, need to prove that there has been a significant change in your circumstances. The language of your divorce decree may ease the burden of proving the chance, as well.
The beneficial language to reduce alimony payments would include how the support figure is calculated, how long payments are to be made, what factors will end payments, methods for exchanging financial information each year, what is to happen for the recipient if they become self-supporting, retirement, identifying what payments are modifiable, and methods for exchanging the exact number that each person is claiming on taxes.
Just like the determination of alimony, the modification and termination is determined by state law. Proving to the court that a substantial change has occurred or that alimony is no longer necessary requires making an appeal to the courts and the laws in your state.
One public figure who is attempting to navigate these legal waters is actor and singer David Hasselhoff. The former star of “Baywatch” and “Knight Rider” is looking to end his $10,000-a-month alimony payments to his ex-wife, actress Pamela Bach, according to The Daily Mail.
Hasselhoff and Bach married in December 1989 and share two children together, Taylor Ann and Hayley. When they divorced in January 2006, each was given custody of one daughter initially, until Hasselhoff later obtained custody of both.
The initial alimony payments were at $21,000 per month, before the amount was cut significantly in 2016, after Hasselhoff’s lawyers proved that he could not financially afford to continue making those payments. Court documents claim that Hasselhoff claims that Bach has displayed a ‘failure to make any efforts to become self-supporting, contribute to her own support, or even make any efforts to gain job skills.’
In total, Hasselhoff claims in court documents that he has paid more than $2.5 million in spousal support.
According to TMZ, Bach claims that she has earned the payments through contributing a number of services toward Hasselhoff’s career, including accounting, administrative duties, consulting, keeping up with the house, and taking care of their children, whom she still considers under her care at the ages of 25 and 27.
Hasselhoff’s situation illustrates what many breadwinners go through when paying alimony. Whether you are a man or a woman, paying alimony requires you to keep an eye on the financial and professional circumstances of your ex-spouse. By doing so, your attorney has the proof necessary to help illustrate your point.
By going through the legal channels and properly filing a request for a change, the long-term financial savings outweigh any legal fees you may accrue in the short term. You need to be able to protect yourself long-term, and that requires properly illustrating to the courts why modification or termination of alimony is necessary.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.