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Modifying a Divorce Decree Denying Alimony

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Can I Request the Court to Order Alimony after Divorce?

In most circumstances, a Court will issue an order for alimony / spousal support soon after the divorce is filed, or when the divorce is finalized. However, what if the Court issues no alimony and the divorce is finalized? Can either party go back to court and ask for Alimony? 

Alimony Requested in Divorce but None Given

Generally a divorce decree awarding no alimony cannot be modified after it is made.  Most jurisdictions have held that a divorce decree denying alimony cannot be modified to include alimony, even where the financial circumstances of one or both of the parties has changed dramatically.  A petition for alimony after the court has denied it will not likely succeed.

Alimony Never Discussed during Divorce

Alimony also cannot be added after the divorce is finalized, even where spousal support was not discussed at all in the settlement. This is because the divorce decree is considered final, not only as to the issues actually addressed, but for all issues that could have been addressed  in court. Courts generally lose the power to award alimony once they have determined that they will not award any.  

Alimony Not Awarded Due to Error

Most jurisdictions will allow the court to award alimony after denying or not addressing it where the divorce judgment were reached in error, due to such factors as fraud, accident, or mistake. This might happen when one spouse was hiding assets or where the Court made a math error in calculating alimony.   

Court Reserved Right to Issue Alimony

The court may also modify a divorce decree that did not award alimony where the court expressly reserved the issue to be considered at a later date.  

Should I Consult a Family Lawyer?

Speaking with a family law attorney will enable you to protect your rights and determine what remedies, if any, you will have in seeking alimony. If you believe that your divorce decree was reached in error, a lawyer will be able to help you seek relief if it is available to you. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-05-2014 12:25 PM PDT

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