If I agreed in court to pay a set amount of alimony, can it ever be modified?

mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

My current maintenance agreement states that I knowingly waive any claims for support or maintenance of any kind from my ex-wife and that I am to pay her alimony for the next five years.

I am taking a severe pay cut at work, and this reduction in income will make it impossible to pay the court-ordered amount.

Can I file a motion to have this maintenance terminated or modified by the courts even if I’ve agreed to pay this amount for the next five years?

Answer:

I can only provide a limited interpretation of your support/maintenance agreement based on the information you have given me. According to the wording you have provided, it seems to me that you have waived any right to request support from the opposing party.

However, you still maintain the right to request a modification of the support obligation you have towards her.

Generally speaking, when a support obligation is due and the obligor (you, in this instance) suffers an involuntary reduction in income, there are grounds to request a support modification.

If the pay cut you are expecting is involuntary – in other words, you have no control over the reduction in your wages – I expect you could petition the court to re-calculate your support obligation so that it accurately reflects the amount owed based upon your modified income.

While your obligation will likely not be terminated, it should be reduced proportionately to the reduction you will suffer in income.

 

Margaret M. Daly is a Staff Attorney in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Daly is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. Ms. Daly received her undergraduate degree in English and Psychology and her Juris Doctor from Duquesne University.  While in law school, she worked with Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood Legal Services Association, assisting low income clients in a variety of Family Law Issues.

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