When you file a petition in a Missouri court to dissolve a marriage, there are numerous issues and terms of agreement incorporated into an official decree. Both you and your ex must adhere to all terms of agreement, unless and until the judge overseeing your case modifies an order. Regarding spousal support (often referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance), several factors help to determine whether an initial order is modifiable.
In Missouri, there are modifiable and non-modifiable spousal support decrees. If the judge issued a modifiable decree in your divorce, you may be able to request a change in the order. The court will then consider the request and decide whether you have presented legitimate and justifiable reasons for seeking modification of the decree.
A spousal support order typically includes a termination date
When a family court judge issues a spousal support decree, the orders may include a termination date, at which point the order becomes null and void. If your decree is modifiable, and you file a motion before the termination date, the judge might grant your request, particularly if any of the issues shown in the following list are relevant to the motion:
- You are a custodial parent, and your child has developed a condition or circumstances that justify you not seeking outside employment so that you can be home full-time to care for him or her.
- Your work circumstances have changed, and you must obtain further education or training for new employment, which will impede your ability to be self-supporting in the meantime.
- You have had to relocate with your children, and the cost of living is much higher in the new location.
- A substantial change has occurred, which merits an increase in spousal support.
If you are on the other side of the issue, meaning that you are the one paying spousal support, you may also file a motion for modification. An example of a legitimate cause for doing so might be that your ex has enjoyed a substantial increase in income and now earns more wages per month than you do, which eliminates the need for financial supplement on your part.
The court considers both sides when a request for modification is made
Missouri law allows a spouse to request financial support from a former spouse in a divorce when he or she is unable to be self-supported at the time. The court determines the length of time that spousal support will continue, as well as details regarding payments, such as when they are due and how much each payment should be.
The court understands that unexpected and substantial changes sometimes occur in life, which is why state law provides recourse for you to file a motion to modify a court order. It is always best to seek guidance and support if you are unsure about which laws may be relevant to your case.