Spousal support may be required from one spouse to the other in a divorce or legal separation case. Usually, the time period for the payments will be set in the support order issued by the court. Once that time is fulfilled, the support payments will end. This will depend on each individual case.

However, there are certain instances wherein spousal support or alimony can be terminated earlier. These include:

  • The recipient spouse is cohabitating with a new partner
  • The recipient party has had recent changes to their income level
  • The paying party will experience severe hardship due to the payments
  • Various other factors as determined according to the court’s discretion

When Will a Court Order Spousal Support?

Spousal support is not awarded in all cases. Courts are more willing to order spousal support if certain factors are present, such as:

  • The recipient spouse has a disability or other health concern
  • There is a major difference between the income and financial resources of the two parties
  • One of the spouses contributed much to the other’s development, such as paying their higher education
  • One spouse spent a disproportionate time at home for child-raising purposes

Therefore, if any of these circumstances are no longer present, the court will likely put a stop to spousal support payments. For instance, if there is no longer much of a difference between the income levels of each party, the court may terminate spousal support.

How Do I Modify Spousal Support Payments?

In some cases, it is possible to modify alimony or spousal support. To do this, you’ll need to present a request with the court (modifications aren’t granted automatically). You will then need to present evidence of "changed circumstances" that would justify a modification to the support order.

For instance, if you have a change in employment circumstances, you should present documents in support of this. The court will then conduct a review to determine the appropriate adjustments.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

A qualified lawyer may be needed for dealing with spousal support and other family law issues. Your family attorney can provide you with representation during court proceedings, and can also assist you with legal documents if needed. Also, in the event of a dispute, your attorney can help determine steps for a possible solution to the legal conflict.