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When Can Someone Request Maintenance or Modify Alimony After a Divorce in New York?

In New York state, the law allows for a spouse to request a certain amount of maintenance, or a change to existing maintenance that is already in place, if certain circumstances arise. The key is that an extraordinary circumstance must be demonstrated. In other words, one spouse cannot just go to the court and request additional maintenance because they think that the original amount awarded to them was not fair.

One family and divorce lawyer recounts cases where one spouse went back to request a change to maintenance payments, absent the proof that such a change was actually necessitated. If proof in the form of hard evidence cannot be produced, the likelihood of a favorable judgement is almost zero. Such evidence needs to demonstrate that a financial hardship is occurring because of the divorce. One can also demonstrate that they have had a change in their income, a decrease in their assets, or that their job status is no longer the same. If these items cannot be produced to the court, then the court will likely opt to not even hold a hearing for a change in maintenance.

The law relating to Domestic Relations in New York has some strict guidelines that need to be followed in order to have a maintenance modification issued. Basically, any party that desires to have the maintenance amount changed is responsible for substantiating the claim that such a change is necessary in the first place. Extreme hardship is one example of how this can take place. However, these guidelines can be relaxed somewhat if the original obligation came down via a judgement or order from the court.

Individuals named in a divorce settlement are permitted to change what the default law is in their case by opting to include specific terminology within the context of their respective agreements. These are the agreements that are entered into with the court and signed off on by both parties. An example would be leaving out the language that maintenance is to be paid to the other spouse, but will end upon that spouse becoming married again. If either of the spouses involved in the agreement want to go back and change the amount of maintenance being paid, or the time period involved, then that person needs to show that there has been a change of situation that warrants the maintenance issue to be reconsidered. One cannot simply want more money. Alternatively, one cannot go to the court for a change simply because they want to pay less money. He or she must be able to demonstrate that a financial hardship exists to keep them from paying the monthly support amount contained in the original agreement.

New York laws permits the court to look at changes in personal circumstances when determining if the original court order regarding maintenance should be changed. If there is no evidence presented to the court that such a major personal change has occurred since the original agreement was entered into, then the court has no obligation to even schedule a hearing on the issue. However, there are certain changes that would prompt the court to agree to take another look at the original agreements relating to maintenance and alimony. One such situation is to show that a financial emergency exists to the point where one of the parties involved may very well become a public burden if a change to the maintenance agreement does not take place. Other cases that have resulted in the court changing the maintenance amounts to be paid by one spouse to another include the sudden presence of medical bills or some other type of personal disaster that has occurred since the original agreement was entered into.

It is important to keep in mind that either spouse can request a change in the amount of support that is being paid. Obviously, the requirement to demonstrate a change in personal circumstances is different for each. If the party submitting the change request is the ex-spouse responsible for paying child support or alimony, he or she must show that they are no longer able to meet their financial obligations through no fault of their own. If the person requesting the change is the ex-spouse who is receiving support payments, the evidence must prove an emergency financial need the precludes the original judgement from being enough. Even then, the other party must have the means to pay the added support, which is why it is not as easy as it sounds to get an increase in maintenance payments even if the such a change is actually warranted.

It should be pointed out that the burden of proof in these cases rests with the spouse who is requesting the change in the first place, regardless of the position that they are in. In New York, family court is only obligated to have a hearing on issues relating to maintenance modification when it is shown that such a change may very well be warranted. The facts must be presented ahead of time. If the court deems those to be sufficient, only then will a hearing potentially be scheduled. At the present time, there is a law in place to help the court calculate new support awards depending on income. However, the court still has the leeway to move away from these guidelines if there are certain extenuating circumstances in any particular case. The orders that are handed down need to be fair and balanced, without causing undue hardship on either party.

Finalizing a divorce and getting on with your life is rarely easy. If you are struggling with matters, and a change in maintenance is warranted, you will want to contact Long Island Divorce Lawyers for assistance. We can help guide you on legal matters that are of importance to you, and get you the settlement that you need to get on with your life. We offer free consultations, so contact us today via phone or email.