This is the question comes in every person’s mind who is recently thinking about divorce or already divorced. Often time a man think after divorce that when his income increases and his ex-wife found that he is earning more money then what happens.
In the case of a recently divorced individual, he fears that his ex-wife may submit a petition to increase the amount of alimony he pays since she knows that he is making more money.
And so the way this works is that for someone to get into court in the first place to ask for change in order that person has to show a material change in circumstances. And so any significant shifting income by either party could very well result in a judge finding that there is a material change in circumstances whether it’s the income of the recipient going up or down significantly or the payer.
And so in this case because the payer’s income when up significantly that can be considered a material change in circumstances. Again judges have a lot of discretion on these issues but whenever there is a big change in income that’s typically at least grounds for the person to get in the door or for either party to get in the door and file to have the issue heard.
However, as to whether an increase will actually be ordered that’s a little bit more complicated. And the best way to think about this is that when assessing alimony you have to remember that it is mainly needs based. The purpose of alimony is to make sure that the recipient is provided for. In fact the statue actually reads that the alimony ordered shall be the lowest of either 30 to 35 percent. Which those percentages we believe are out dated because of tax reform but nonetheless the lowest of either some percentages in their range 30 to 35 percent or the recipient’s needs.
And so when the recipient’s needs are lower than that percentage, then that should be alimony amount. Basically the point is to meet those needs.
And So How Does That Relate To This Particular Situation?
If at the time of the judgement, the alimony amount met the needs of the recipient, a significant increase in income of the payer shouldn’t make a difference. In other words you can’t now go in say hey my needs were fine at the time but now this guy is making more money my needs are greater and I need more alimony.
So they can’t say that however it is an argument that is certainly going to be subject to the closes decree of scrutiny from the court. And so the point of all this is that yes and ex-spouse can file a modification when the payer realizes a significant increase in income. However the recipient is going to have to show that the recipient needs are greater now than at the time of the order.
That’s the best way to think about how to process this, its ability to pay and needs. And so ability to pay has gone up but if needs was taking care of the time of divorce and that remains about the same than the recipient is going to have a really difficult time convincing a judge to up the alimony amount.