If you are paying court ordered child support or spousal support, you can generally seek a modification of these orders anytime there is a legitimate “change of circumstances.” This means something significant has changed since the spousal or child support order was made.
Maybe the spouse or partner that was getting support no longer needs it; or the person paying support has had a significant drop in income and can no longer afford the amount of support. Sometimes, the spouse/partner getting support is not making a good faith effort to become self-supporting, so the paying spouse/partner can ask the court to end or change the support order based on this.
If the spouses or domestic partners can reach an agreement on a new amount of spousal or partner support, they can write it up as an agreement/stipulation and give it to the judge for signature to have it become a new court order. But if the spouses or domestic partners cannot agree on the change, the spouse or partner wanting the change must file a motion with the court asking for a “modification” of the spousal/partner support amount.
Unless the judge signs a new court order, the existing spousal or partner support amount and order will not be changed. If you are the person paying spousal or partner support, you will still owe the full amount of support in your current court order until you get the order changed Â— even if your situation has changed.
For example, if you lose your job today but you do not change your spousal or partner support order until 3 months from now, you will still owe spousal or partner support from today until 3 months from now, even though you were not working. Also, if you owe that amount but are unable to pay it, you will owe interest (at the rate of 10% per year) on any unpaid balance.
So, to protect yourself, even if you have a verbal agreement with your spouse/domestic partner to change the spousal or partner support amount, put it in writing and have a judge sign it. That way you have a current spousal or partner support order that reflects the current amount.
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