This is the next post in my series discussing spousal support awards in Las Vegas, Nevada. My previous article discussed the process of litigating an alimony matter in court when a settlement agreement cannot be reached. It also stressed the importance of retaining an experienced family law attorney to represent your interests at trial. In this article I will discuss another important topic – the possibility of modifying a spousal support award after a case has been concluded. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Under Nevada law, unless the parties have expressly agreed that a spousal support award cannot be changed in the future, alimony orders are typically considered “modifiable.” This means that, if circumstances of one or both of the parties have significantly changed, the court may be willing to adjust a previously issued alimony award. This can happen under multiple circumstances. When one party’s income significantly increases or decreases,the court may consider adjusting spousal support upward or downward accordingly. If, for example, a party is receiving support to update their job skills and re-enter the workforce, and in the meantime they accept a lucrative job offer, then the Court may determine that support is no longer necessary.
The process for modifying spousal support begins by filing a Motion with the court. The other party may file a response in opposition to the requested change. Each side will be required to provide updated financial disclosures. A hearing will be held at which the judge will enter an order. Depending on the facts of the case, the court may be prepared to immediately issue a new order. If additional testimony is needed, the court may amend the award temporarily pending a further evidentiary hearing before issuing a final ruling. The parties will be required to provide objective evidence in support of their respective positions. In some instances, the court may permit the parties to conduct discovery. The same types of arguments and documentary evidence as presented during the initial spousal support hearing will be used in a modification hearing. For example, if one party is claiming a decrease in income, the other party may argue that the person is voluntarily underemployed for purposes of reducing a spousal support obligation. As previously discussed in this series, information such as pay stubs, tax returns, employment records, etc. will play an important role.
It is important to understand that the parties’ relative financial positions must have significantly changed to warrant a modification in spousal support. A temporary lay-off or normal seasonal reductions in income will not likely justify a decrease in one’s support obligations. The court will take these factors into account when issuing the original award. For example, if one party is a construction worker with inconsistent employment throughout the year, the court will not view a temporary lay-off between jobs as a reason to adjust spousal support downward. Instead, the court will have considered the sporadic employment in determining the initial award and used an average income history to decide on the amount owed. Likewise, a seasonal employee at a casino pool should not expect an anticipated layoff in winter to justify a reduction in spousal support payments. On the other hand, if a party is seriously injured and no longer able to work, this significant change in circumstances may warrant a modification in payment obligations. Each case will depend on the specific facts of the situation.
If you believe that your spousal support award is no longer fair, it is important to speak with a Las Vegas divorce lawyer. My office prides itself on providing quality service and we are ready to assist you. Contact us today.