Like child support, clients often ask whether or not maintenance (spousal support) is modifiable. While maintenance is in fact modifiable the origination of the support order determines the standard the court will use when determining modification.
When a maintenance obligation is determined by a judge or is part of an agreement that is merged with the divorce decree the court may modify maintenance based on a substantial change in circumstance of either party. These changes could include a paying party’s loss of income or a receiving party’s increase in income.
When a property settlement agreement or a stipulation is incorporated, but not merged with a divorce decree that means that the terms of the agreement are a binding contract on the parties and survive the judgment as a separate agreement. When a maintenance obligation is based on an agreement or stipulation that is unmerged, the court will only modify the terms of the agreement based on showing of “extreme hardship” by either party. “Extreme hardship” is difficult to define, as it is determined on a case-by-case basis.
For more information regarding spousal support modification, please contact Ross S. Gelber at 716-632-5919 or firstname.lastname@example.org.