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What to do if spousal support payments become overwhelming

When you first agreed to, or were ordered to pay $2,000 per month to your ex-spouse in support payments, you may have been okay with it because your income was sufficient enough to meet that obligation. Fast forward a few years and your income may have declined dramatically or you have had other life issues that have drained your finances. If this is the case, a motion to modify your divorce decree may be the right thing to do.

Virginia law allows for support decrees to be modified when there is a substantial change in circumstances regarding the obligor (the person ordered to pay support). Essentially, there must be a change not contemplated by the parties at the time the order was made, or an event that adversely affects the obligor that occurs through no fault of their own. 

Parties can agree to a modification on their own, but any agreement must be accompanied by a court order. In determining whether a modification is justified, a family court judge will review many of the same factors used in setting an initial support obligation, including the financial health of the parties, their respective ages and earning capacity, the parties' actions in creating circumstances that adversely affected their employment and any other actions that could have legal implications on continued support (i.e. continued cohabitation).

Regardless of the circumstances, time is of the essence when contemplating a support modification. It is critical to set forth a formal request for modification before falling behind on payments. If you have additional questions about requesting a change to your obligation, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.

The preceding is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

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