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When can I reduce spousal support payments in Virginia?

Are you paying too much spousal support (traditionally known as alimony)? For some, modifying these orders is a financial necessity. However, having the economic need is not always enough. You would also need to present a formal, convincing argument to a judge.

Apart from situations involving cohabitation, remarriage or death, Virginia courts tend to divide eligible modification cases into two broad categories. If you are feeling like your support payments are unmanageable, it is likely you fall into one or both of these. Please read on for a brief analysis of each category, with some examples.

When situations change

The first (and probably the most common) situation in which you may be able to modify your spousal support would involve a material change in circumstances. For example, you may have lost your job, or economic factors may have affected your business. Conversely, your supported spouse may have landed a long-term job with a higher salary. Both kinds of unforeseen events could require a reconsideration of your award of spousal support.

When expected conditions do not arise

The other category involves predicted events in your court order that did not happen. For example, imagine you gained ownership of a rental property during your divorce and expected income from that property; however, a downturn in the rental market may have resulted in the unit remaining vacant. This could be a valid basis for modification because, even though the court assumed you would find a tenant for the property, economic factors beyond your control made that predicted situation impossible.

Waiting too long can cause problems

You should consider acting as quickly as possible when you start to encounter financial difficulties. As long as the original agreement did not account for the situations in question, you could have legal recourse to change the payment amount. A timely modification to your alimony agreement could potentially save you years of debt management.

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