Do I Need to Modify My Spousal Support Order if I’m Making More Money?

By Michael DiFalco

Spousal support orders are also known as “maintenance” payments. These payments are court-ordered and require one spouse to pay the other after a legal separation or divorce

These support orders are meant to ensure that both parties can maintain a reasonable standard of living. Often, these court-ordered payments are awarded to the lower-earning spouse. This may be necessary if the spouse with a lower income is unable to maintain their previous lifestyle. 

Factors including age, health, and education will be considered by the courts when determining the terms of a spousal support order. Additionally, in certain circumstances, these support orders may be modified.

Non-Modifiable Spousal Support Orders in New York

Unlike child support orders, maintenance payment orders can be more difficult for courts to unilaterally adjust. When spouses agree on a spousal support order, they can include stipulations for how the agreement can be modified. 

Most spousal support orders are not modifiable or can only be modified under extreme hardship. This means that the amount and extent of the support cannot be adjusted at a later date. No matter the circumstances, the spousal support order will remain the same. 

The spouse who is paying may agree to a non-modifiable agreement if it is unlikely that they would owe less in the future. Additionally, the spouse who is receiving payment may hope to negotiate a higher payment with the promise that the agreement will not be changed. 

Common Requirements for Modifying Support Orders

If you’ve agreed to a spousal support order that can be changed, some of the most common criteria for modification include:

  • Both relevant parties agree to the change
  • Retirement of a party
  • Adjustment of equitable distribution of other assets 
  • The presiding judge orders the modification
  • One ex-spouse’s income increases or decreases by a certain percentage

In many cases, NY family law courts will allow for changes in the terms of a maintenance payment agreement if there are significant changes in circumstances. 

Do I need to change my spousal support order?

It is critical to follow the legal and financial obligations specified in your spousal support order. This legally binding agreement carries serious penalties and consequences for those who violate the terms. 

To change a maintenance payment order in New York, your attorney will need to file a motion with the relevant court. This modification request must contain a clear explanation of the significant change in circumstances that makes a change necessary.

This may include significant changes in:

  • One or both parties’ incomes
  • One spouse’s financial need
  • The health status of one or both parties

If the judge agrees that there is a substantial change in the situation, they may decide to modify the spousal support order. Modifications typically include a decrease or increase in the amount that the paying party is required to provide.

Other Considerations for Your Spousal Support Order

However, making more money is not always sufficient for adjusting a payment order. The presiding judge will consider a wide range of factors about the situation when making their decision

It is important to seek any requested modifications through the court. You should never simply stop providing your spousal support payments without court approval. 

If you have recently begun making more money and you are paying spousal support in New York, make sure to consult with an attorney. A seasoned family law attorney will help you determine the best course of action regarding modifications to your payment order.

Effective Family Law Assistance in Garden City

When you need premiere legal representation in Garden City, New York, look no further than the caring and knowledgeable team at Aiello & DiFalco. Our caring legal team will work diligently to protect the best interests and well-being of your family. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney today.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.