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Alimony is intended to help a financially dependent spouse adjust to life after divorce by being able to afford basic living expenses, pay bills, and generally enjoy (to the extent possible) the standard of living that was present during the marriage. But times change and so do expenses, and the amount of alimony that is ordered at divorce may prove to be inadequate later. One reason this could be the case is an increase in the cost of living. The Middlesex County family law attorneys of LaFountain & Wollman P.C. take a look at this issue.

How cost of living changes may affect alimony

Alimony is a two-sided matter. It concerns both the recipient spouse’s financial need for spousal support and the payor spouse’s ability to pay such support. When an alimony agreement is settled between the spouses, or when a judge issues a court order establishing alimony, it is impossible to know how either spouse’s finances may change in the future.

And there are various ways they can change. An adjustment in the cost of living, typically brought about by inflation, is one such way this can occur. The recipient spouse may find that bills, household expenses, and utilities have started to increase. Meanwhile, the payor spouse may determine that their non-alimony obligations have gotten more expensive. In the former case, the recipient spouse might conclude that the original alimony amount is not enough to make ends meet. In the latter situation, the payor spouse may no longer be able to afford the alimony payments.

Cost of living changes can therefore affect one or both spouses, depending on the circumstances and other factors that may also have changed since the original divorce settlement agreement or alimony order.

Changes in circumstances and alimony court orders

If alimony is part of a divorce order, there are circumstances in which the terms can be modified at a later date. To modify an alimony order, a party must show that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances since the previous order was entered. Either ex-spouse may request a modification based on changed circumstances. There are many reasons that a court may grant the request, and that potentially includes changes in the cost of living.

Helping You Adapt To Life’s Changes After Divorce

Alimony provides former spouses with the support they need to move on with their lives after divorce. If you are negotiating a divorce settlement agreement with alimony terms or a court is considering an order providing for such support, talk with LaFountain & Wollman P.C.

About the Author
Attorney Nicholas J. LaFountain has extensive experience litigating and negotiating civil disputes of many types. He has been successfully representing clients in the courtroom since 2004.