When can you request spousal support modification?

After your divorce, you and your former spouse rebuilt your lives based on your new financial circumstances, including the spousal support that the divorce decree ordered. Spousal support may become an issue long after you and your former spouse sign the divorce agreement. The laws take into account the many ways that financial systems can change, and the courts allow people to request modifications when changes arise. 

However, the court will not approve just any request for modification. Here are some of the requirements for a successful modification petition. 

Reasons to petition for support modification 

According to the New York statutes, you or your former spouse may petition for a modification of the original spousal support order if either of you have undergone a substantial change in circumstances. For example, perhaps your spouse has lost his or her job and has had to take a new one that pays considerably less. The original income calculations are no longer valid, so the court may agree that the two of you should recalculate to reflect the new incomes. 

A substantial promotion, the birth of another child or remarriage are other significant changes that may warrant a recalculation of the support amount. 

Agreements between spouses 

A change in circumstances may not be enough in some cases. If you and your spouse created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that set up how you would handle spousal support, the statutes say that you have to abide by that contract. However, the two of you do still have the option to modify the amount. You can either create a new written contract, or the two of you could enter into an oral agreement on the record in court.