If you’ve been through a divorce, you know that alimony is one of the most contentious aspects of the process.
No one likes to pay alimony. Men don’t want to pay their soon-to-be-ex wives to be their exes.
Women, oh, golly, women hate paying their soon-to-be-ex husbands (often called “the loser”) alimony.
Once the divorce is done and alimony is set, everyone steps back and takes a deep breath. Everyone unwinds and de-stresses.
Then life happens, and alimony needs to change.
Here are a few of the most common reasons for changing Utah alimony.
- Loss of job
Job loss is by far one of the most common, if not the most common, reasons for modifying alimony in Utah.
Modifying alimony because of a job loss is most successful when (1) the job loss was not voluntary (e.g., lay-offs); (2) the job loss is permanent (i.e., you aren’t going to get rehired after a couple months); and (3) the job loss results in a reduction in income at your new job.
(Keep in mind: quitting a job is not losing a job. If you quit, the court may well tell you to keep paying the same alimony.)
- Change of job
Change of job is similar to loss of job, and the factors that lead to a modification in alimony after a job loss apply to a change of job.
The problem we most commonly face with job changes is when income significantly drops at the new job.
If a job change was voluntary and resulted in a major drop in income, the court will often say the person changing jobs is underemployed. Underemployment means you could and should make more money, so the court will make you continue paying alimony as if you made more money.
If the new job and decline in income was necessary, then courts will allow for a decrease in alimony.
- Ex gets remarried
Unless explicitly stated otherwise, in Utah you stop paying alimony when your spouse remarries. This is usually pretty straightforward because you know when it happens (family will tell you).
If your ex lied about being married and someone paid alimony when they shouldn’t have, we can go back to court and get that money back. Lying about being remarried to continue receiving alimony is fraud.
- Ex cohabits
Like remarriage, when the person receiving alimony cohabits, alimony stops. (Cohabiting, in its simplest form, is when your ex lives with someone and has sex with them. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the heart of it.) Unlike remarriage, people lie about cohabiting all the time in order to keep receiving alimony.
Proving cohabitation often involves employing a private investigator to gather evidence. Once enough evidence has been gathered, the spouse paying alimony files a motion to terminate alimony.
Retirement almost always means monthly income goes way down, which almost always means the person paying alimony can’t pay it anymore.
Modifying alimony at retirement is most successful when: (1) retirement happens at a normal age (e.g., 65); and (2) you can’t reasonably be expected to work another comparable full-time job after retirement.
Conversely, if you’re 45 and you retired after hitting your 25 years, Utah courts will expect you to go get another job and continue paying alimony.
- Your Ex makes a lot more money
There are some situations where a person receiving alimony has a big increase in income and doesn’t need alimony anymore. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s certainly a basis for modifying or terminating alimony.
For example, if someone makes $50,000 per year and needs $1000 per month in alimony to make ends meet, alimony might be $1000 per month for ten years. Let’s say that five years later the person receiving alimony is make $95,000 per year. Well, that person doesn’t need $1000 per month anymore, and alimony might well end.
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