I’ve fallen way behind on alimony. Can I get a retroactive modification?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

Is there any way I can get a retroactive modification to a divorce alimony decree from many years ago that I signed?

I have been unemployed since 2002 and am a couple hundred thousand dollars in arrears.



Your question is about the modifiability of spousal support.

Spousal support in Michigan is generally modifiable due to a change in circumstances. In order to get a modification of spousal support, you have to file a motion with the court that entered your judgment of divorce seeking a modification. The burden is on the filing party to show by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a change in circumstances.

Parties can waive their right to petition the court for a modification. You should have an attorney review the language of your judgment to determine if you waived this right.

The availability of a retroactive modification is limited. It is important that if you have not waived your right to petition for modification that you file a motion as soon as possible to avoid any further arrearages that may not be discharged.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent divorces in Michigan.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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