Spousal support is often a contentious issue and one of the leading causes of animosity between former marriage partners after the dissolution of the relationship. Mediating your divorce can help reduce the hard feelings between parties and create a more equitable settlement. Still, the terms in that settlement are not set in stone, and the terms of your spousal support agreement are one of the primary items subject to change.
When a spousal support order is requested during the divorce process, the court has broad discretion to consider a wide array of factors when determining the extent of the financial support. These factors include: each party’s earning capacities, the level of support the payor was given during the duration of the marriage to increase earning capacity, the ability of the payor to provide support, relative assets and obligations, duration of the marriage, the best interests of any dependent children in the recipient’s children, age and health of the parties, evidence of any history of domestic violence between parties, balancing of hardships, and any other just or equitable factors.
These factors can change over time, and the spousal support arrangement can be modified in order to accommodate the changing circumstances. Life doesn’t end after the divorce, after all, and as each partner moves on with their life, their earning capacity will likely change, or they may find a new romantic partner with whom they would like to enter into a marriage.
Remarriage is a major factor in the potential for a modification – or even termination – of a spousal support order. Two primary scenarios can play out depending on the party entering a new marriage contract.
Scenario one involves the payor of the spousal support getting remarried. Once the payor of the spousal support enters into the new partnership, the addition of the new spouse’s income is now subject to consideration when modifying the support order. The additional income doesn’t hold the same weight as the payor’s own individual income, but it is a factor a court can look at when allocating resources.
Scenario two involves the recipient of spousal support getting remarried. On the day you remarry, the spousal support order automatically terminates, which means you will no longer receive any financial support from your previous spouse (unless your court-ordered judgment specifically states otherwise). This automatic termination doesn’t apply to child support orders. However, the change in circumstances may be cause enough for the order to be modified in light of the additional resources available thanks to the new spouse.
Like the original divorce itself, litigation is not the only avenue you have when working on modifying a current spousal support agreement. The now ex-partners can work with a mediator to help them collaboratively work through the changes in circumstances since the dissolution of their partnership to create a more updated, equitable, and fair support structure for moving forward. By mediating these modifications, couples are more likely to maintain a more cordial relationship by determining what will work best for them without the outside pressure brought on by each party’s legal representation or a judge rendering the final decision for them.