Alimony Modification: When And How To Adjust Spousal Support

Divorce involves a wide variety of legal and emotional implications that can easily complicate an already intricate process. Often, finances can become the sole focus in the midst of a separation, and understandably so, as many spouses decide to combine and share assets, debts, and other financial aspects of their lives when they get married and now have to figure out how to divide everything.

Concerns about HOW everything will be divided range from who’s going to get the house or the cars to who gets stuck with the credit card debts and more. Maybe you’re financially dependent on your spouse and have concerns about how you’ll make ends meet once you’re divorced. Maybe you are the breadwinner in your marriage, and you are concerned about being taken advantage of financially, especially if you lost your job or your income took a large hit.

Most people value financial independence, which is why alimony, also known as spousal support, is important to address if it applies to your situation. Simply defined, alimony is money that one spouse pays to the other during or after a divorce. It is not always permanent, and it can be modified for several different reasons.

In this blog, we’ll discuss when and how alimony can be modified, how an attorney can help with the process and more.

What Are The Different Types Of Spousal Support?

There are several different types of alimony. They all differ in when and how they can be modified. These types include:

Post Separation Support (in some states called “Temporary Alimony”)

  • Typically awarded before property division and only lasts for a short period of time, usually less than two years
  • Can be modified if circumstances allow


  • Can be paid in regular recurring payments or in a lump sum
  • Terminating events include the death of either spouse, the remarriage or cohabitation of one spouse, and others
  • Can be permanent
  • Can be modified if the circumstances allow

When Does Alimony Need To be Adjusted?

In North Carolina, either spouse can file a motion for modification of alimony when they can prove that there has been a substantial change in one spouse’s circumstances, affecting either the receiving spouse’s needs or the other spouse’s ability to pay alimony. Some examples where modification might be appropriate include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Involuntary job loss
  • Restructuring of income
  • Change in ability to work (like disability or a major health issue)
  • Increase in child support, which affects your ability to pay alimony
  • Decrease in child support, which frees up more funds to pay alimony
  • And more

It’s important to note that court-ordered alimony is always modifiable, but most private agreements for alimony (such as in a Separation Agreement or a Prenuptial Agreement) may contain clauses that prohibit the modification of spousal support. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced alimony attorney when creating your arrangement so that they can help you understand the consequences and effects of the agreements you’re making and prevent further complications down the road.

Does Alimony Ever End?

The court analyzes a variety of factors when determining the amount and length of alimony. For example, they will consider the age and health of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the lifestyle of the couple, whether one spouse stayed at home or was a stay-at-home parent, whether there are children involved, earning potential, reasons for divorce, and much more in order to create an arrangement for alimony.

It is rare in North Carolina for there to be a permanent award of alimony. Alimony orders will usually have a set duration of time. Support will also terminate when one spouse passes away or when the dependent spouse remarries or cohabitates with another adult. Under current North Carolina case law, cohabitation involves not just living together but also has a financial component, such as the cohabiting relationship having a financial impact on the dependent spouse’s need for alimony.

If death occurs, alimony automatically terminates. But if your reason to terminate is remarriage, you may need to show proof, such as a marriage certificate. If the reason is cohabitation, you will have a lot more to prove. You will need proof of living together, like photos and videos or leases and deeds, as well as evidence of a commingling of finances, bill payment, sharing of expenses, and other documents that show an economic impact on the dependent spouse.

How An Attorney Can Help With The Modification Process

Like divorce, modification can be challenging to navigate on your own, which is why it is imperative to enlist the help of a seasoned alimony modification attorney who can guide you through each step, ensuring you’re able to make informed decisions regarding this important arrangement between you and your former spouse. Having an experienced attorney in your corner can help you adapt to unforeseen changes and unnecessary complications. An attorney can also:

  • Calculate possible adjustments when your circumstances change
  • Help you decide if seeking a modification makes financial sense
  • Prepare and file all necessary legal documentation
  • Negotiate with your former spouse or their lawyer
  • Advocate for your rights in court if needed
  • Offer you legal guidance and support
  • And more!

Call Triangle Smart Divorce today to request a consultation with a modification attorney!

If the circumstances of your financial situation have significantly changed, then your alimony payments may need to as well. There’s no specific formula for alimony because every marriage and divorce is different and there are many, many factors at play when determining the “right” amount and duration of alimony.

At Triangle Smart Divorce, we understand that! Our alimony modification attorneys can help you modify the terms of your alimony arrangement based on your needs to ensure that you’re being paid or paying an appropriate amount in spousal support.

No matter what the circumstances of your situation are, we will take the time to get to know you, understand your goals, and craft an amendment to your alimony arrangement that provides you with security and a sense of relief. If you and your spouse cannot agree to an amendment, we will walk beside you every step of the way in court and pursue a modification for you. We can also help with other types of modification, like custody, child support, agreement, and more. Call today to request a consultation and discover your next steps and options.