Modify Alimony Orders in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin alimony can be modified when a spouse receiving support gets remarried or when a substantial change in financial circumstances occurs for either spouse.

Which spouse can request Alimony modifications?

Both the person paying and receiving spousal support are entitled to ask for a change. However, the court won't modify anything unless there is a substantial change in circumstances for one or both parties. Some common examples include the sudden loss of a job or an increase in the cost of living.

In a similar way, if an ex-spouse receiving support moves in with a boyfriend or girlfriend the person paying may be able to justify a change in circumstances for the other person and lower payments.

Adjustments or modifications to maintenance awards can be made when a financial change can be demonstrated to the court to satisfaction. There are several factors here. Primarily, are you looking for a change in amount or duration? Financial change may exclude an increase in the amount, but the duration may be modified.

You may be able to increase the duration of the maintenance awarded. In the case of Eckert v. Eckert 144 Wis. 2d 770, 424 N.W.2d 759 (Ct. App. 1988), a similar situation occurred. It is not uncommon for someone who is given the burden of financial debt to file for bankruptcy. In this case an increase in maintenance was denied, but the maintenance award was extended indefinitely.

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In some circumstances, even a substantial change in income may not be sufficient reason to modify payments.

This is especially true in cases where the person paying alimony pays a percentage. For example, if the payer is paying 10% of their income to the other spouse, the judge may decide that just because income is reduced does not mean the percentage should change.

In the end, everything will be determined by the circumstances of your divorce case.

Whatever the situation, when financial changes occur, ensure you know your rights. Work together with your attorney to make sure all factors in your life are taken into account so your alimony order is a fair, equitable alimony order.

Do I Have to Pay Maintenance Even After My Spouse Remarries?

There is not have enough information here to provide you an answer with any amount of certainty. However, there may be something you can do. It would depend on the wording of the court order, and what exactly it was you agreed to do. Based on the information you provided, you should contact a family law attorney and discuss the matter in detail. He/she will be able to provide you with advice, guidance, and will offer you options on the direction to take.

In the case of Rintelman v. Rintelman, 118 Wis. 2d 587, 348 N.W.2d 498 (1984), (Affirming) 115 Wis. 2d 206, 339 N.W.2d 612 (Ct. App. 1983), a man had entered into a binding stipulation. Generally, the stipulation voiced that he would indefinitely pay his wife maintenance. This included the event of remarriage. He petitioned to end the maintenance, but the court decided against the termination. This is one scenario, yours may play out entirely different. You would want to speak to a lawyer to find out what your options are sooner, rather than later.

 Can My Maintenance Award Be Modified?

Maintenance orders can be modified. However, it is dependent on the circumstances, the wording, and the accepted agreement of the maintenance judgment set forth by the court.

There are many ways this proceeding could play out. One example is the case of Fobes v. Fobes 124 Wis. 2d 72, 368 N.W.2d 643 (1985). In this particular case, The wife entered into a stipulation that determined that she would receive maintenance for three years. During that time, she would gain full time employment. She, too, was unable to do so, and requested a modification. The circuit court granted her modification request and awarded her permanent maintenance. The husband appealed, the court of appeals certified the case, the supreme court accepted the certification and affirmed. This is one possible scenario, but your case will be decided on its own merits.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can change alimony?

Either party can change alimony if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Some examples include an increased cost of living, a loss of a job, or an increase in income.

How do you adjust spousal support?

Spousal support is modified by filing the correct paperwork with the clerk of courts. The necessary paperwork like the Stipulation to Change: Maintenance can be found on the Wisconsin court system’s website.

Can maintenance payments be changed?

Yes, maintenance payments can be changed. It is only able to be modified if there has been a serious change to a party’s financial situation.

What is modifiable spousal support?

Most spousal support is modifiable, meaning it can be updated and changed as situations change. Some spousal support is non-modifiable, meaning it cannot be changed no matter what happens.

Can maintenance be increased?

Maintenance can be increased in situations such as when the person getting paid begins to have a higher cost of living. However, it is more likely for the court to extend maintenance rather than to increase the amount of each payment.

Can lump-sum alimony be modified?

Lump-sum alimony is non-modifiable. It is all paid at one time, so once it is paid, it is paid. This means that even if the spouse that got paid becomes self-sufficient, the other spouse cannot take the money back.

What happens if you can't pay alimony?

If you cannot pay alimony, file with the courts seeking to modify alimony to lower it. The best thing to do is be upfront about your situation. If you end up with arrears, that money you owe could plague you for years to come.

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