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Is Spousal Support Automatically Modified if One Person’s Income Changes?

When a couple divorces, they may agree on spousal support payments, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance. In other cases, a Minnesota family court judge will order these payments based on a list of factors set out in state law.

Among the factors that are considered when ordering spousal maintenance are the financial resources of each spouse, each party’s contributions to the marriage, the length the couple was married, and each spouse’s earning capacity. A judge can order either short-term maintenance to allow one spouse to get back on their feet, or long-term maintenance to help someone maintain their standard of living when they are unable to support themselves.

When someone’s income or capacity to earn an income changes, the support award does not change on its own. The two parties can agree to change the payment amounts if they can come to an agreement. If no agreement can be reached, it is essential for the party seeking a change to ask a court for a modification of the support order. Common reasons for a change to a support order include:

  • A significant increase in income for either spouse
  • A significant decrease in income for either spouse
  • An inheritance by the spouse receiving support
  • Changes in the cost of living
  • Major health problems

In weighing whether to change the support award, a court will determine whether the current award is unreasonable and unfair in light of changed circumstances.

In some cases, parties can create an agreement that takes away a court’s power to make later changes. Known as Karon waivers, they must be approved by a judge before they can take effect.

To learn more about alimony and modifying support orders, speak with a compassionate Minnesota spousal maintenance attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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