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What if I can no longer afford to pay my spousal maintenance?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is sometimes awarded to one spouse as part of an Indiana divorce. Maintenance, also known as alimony in some states, is an amount of money paid by one spouse to another for a certain period.

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to allow both spouses to support themselves financially and maintain relatively the same standard of living after the divorce as during the marriage. Maintenance is not awarded in all divorces as it is not appropriate in all cases.

Maintenance factors

Factors courts examine when deciding whether maintenance is appropriate include the ability of a spouse to find and sustain employment and the property division during the divorce.

For example, if you and your ex-spouse are both working, but you received a higher share of marital property, a court can order you to pay a monthly amount of maintenance to make up for it.

Maintenance can be temporary or permanent, although permanent maintenance is rarely awarded. Maintenance is generally awarded for a time the court deems appropriate for the receiving spouse to obtain financial stability.

But what if you are ordered to pay maintenance and something happens leaving you unable to make the payments? You may have been able to afford it when it was ordered, but perhaps you lost your job, had a child or lost a family member who was contributing to household expenses?

What are my options?

You can petition the court for a reduction or dismissal of your maintenance payments, but you must provide evidence of a substantial and continuing change in your circumstances.

This means you must show that the change in your life was something major and that it is not temporary. If you had an accident and are paying off hospital bills, this might not qualify you for a maintenance reduction because the court could view the hospital bills as a temporary financial burden.

You should know your chances of success in seeking a spousal maintenance reduction before petitioning the court so you do not waste time and money. This requires an evaluation of your situation by a qualified professional.