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Owning a business can be a very worthwhile and rewarding experience in many ways. You get to bring your dreams to life. You get to be your own boss. You have the chance to build something from the ground up, something that may bring financial rewards, personal satisfaction, and a way to provide for yourself and those you love. 

While owning a business certainly offers many advantages, the truth is that owning a business isn’t always easy. There are good years and bad years – years where the profits come rolling in, and years where you might take a loss. That’s all part of it. Certainly though, in those years where your business may be bringing in less income than you need, you may start to feel stressed and worried about how you will continue to pay all of your bills. If you’re a divorcee, one of those bills might include alimony payments to your ex-spouse. It’s only understandable to wonder, if you find yourself in this situation, whether or not there might be a way to reduce your alimony payments, at least temporarily. 

If you find yourself asking this question, the good news is that there are some circumstances in which alimony obligations may be modified. How exactly you might go about obtaining a modification will depend on whether your alimony obligation was determined in an agreement that you and your spouse entered into together, or whether or not the alimony was court-ordered. Let’s take a closer look at both possibilities: 

  • If your alimony was determined by agreement: If you and your spouse determined your alimony obligation by agreeing together, the news in terms of modification may be either good, or bad – depending upon your perspective, and your spouse’s willingness to compromise and be flexible. If you’ve entered into an agreement, the way to change that agreement is to decide, together, to do so. Certainly, if you are the spouse paying alimony and your ex-spouse is somewhat financially dependent upon that alimony, this may be a difficult conversation – but it will be a necessary one. Do your best to work together to come up with creative solutions as to how you can make the best of a bad financial situation together, if possible. Perhaps you might work out an arrangement to pay less alimony for a few months, and slightly more for an equal time period in the future, when your business is prospering again. The good news, when it comes to modifying your agreement, is that there are very few limits as to how you can do so in a way that will work best for your family’s particular circumstances. 
  • If your alimony was courtordered: If your alimony award was determined by a court, then you must return to court to have that award modified. Your attorney will help you file the necessary motion to do so with the court, and you will need to be able to present evidence of a “substantial change of circumstances” – either concerning the needs of the dependent spouse or with respect to the ability of the supporting spouse’s ability to pay. If the court finds that a substantial change in circumstances has been proven, then it may modify your alimony order as it finds appropriate, given the circumstances. It is important to remember, however, that there are also some circumstances in which courts will not modify alimony when it is requested. These include: 
    • If the supporting spouse intentionally decreased his or her income: If the court finds out that the supporting spouse intentionally left his or her job as opposed to being laid off or fired, it would likely consider this a voluntary decrease of income, and not a sufficient basis for modifying alimony.
    • If the alimony payment was part of an agreement contained in the couple’s property settlement: For example, if one spouse agreed as part of the divorce to give the other spouse more property in exchange for not having to pay alimony, the spouse who received the property generally cannot later go back and decide that they would prefer alimony payments instead and ask the court to modify the previous order it entered.
    • If the changes were considered at the time of the original order: There are some life changes – retirement, for example – which are considered reasonably foreseeable at the time that an order is entered. This means that a court is unlikely to modify a judgment on that basis.

If you are wondering about the possibility of reducing alimony because of a business downturn, or if you are confronting any other issues in the course of the divorce process for which you need experienced legal help, at The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we’re here for you, and we’re ready to help. So many issues that arise during divorce can seem complex and confusing – but they don’t have to be. With the right legal assistance, you can move through this process smoothly and successfully, and on toward the next bright new chapter ahead. We would be honored to have the opportunity to help you do that. Call us at any time. We look forward to helping you soon.

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