When a married couple gets a divorce, the final divorce decree may include provisions for payment of alimony by one of the spouses. Under limited circumstances, the court may grant a request for modification of an alimony order at a later time. Since complex Nevada laws apply to modification proceedings, it’s a good idea to talk with a family law attorney if you think your circumstances qualify.
At the conclusion of a Nevada divorce case, the judge issues a final order that establishes the terms and conditions of the divorce. In some cases, the court order includes a requirement for payment of alimony, also called spousal support, by one of the spouses to the other spouse. The alimony may be a lump sum payment or periodic payments over time.
Generally, the court does not supervise implementation of the terms of a divorce decree, including payment of alimony. Complying with the terms of the court order is the responsibility of both parties. However, there are reasons that a party can petition the court if an issue subsequently arises that relates to the provisions of the court order. Requesting modification of alimony is one of the reasons for asking a court to review the divorce decree.
Alimony and spousal support, terms used interchangeably in discussing Nevada divorce laws, refer to a financial obligation by one of the spouses to make payments to the other spouse during the proceeding or after the divorce is final. In Nevada, neither spouse has a right to receive alimony. The judge makes the decision whether to award spousal support based on numerous specific factors that state law requires the court to take into account.
In awarding permanent alimony, the court reviews the details of the financial circumstances of both spouses individually, as well as the financial situation during the marriage. In the months and years following a divorce, it is entirely possible for changes to occur in one or more of the factors that entered into the court’s decision. If significant changes in income and other financial assets or in the physical or mental health of one of the spouses, the court may consider modifying the alimony provisions in the divorce.
A court sometimes awards rehabilitative alimony to enable a spouse to obtain education or training relating to employment. An order for rehabilitative alimony typically includes specific timeframes for completion of the training or education. If a former spouse does not meet the time limits, the paying spouse may request modification of the rehabilitative alimony on that basis.
Alimony or spousal support involving periodic payments may be terminated due to specific situations, such as if the recipient remarries or if either former spouse passes away. In addition, the court may terminate or reduce alimony if the recipient cohabits in a conjugal relationship and another person financially supports the recipient, since the recipient’s financial circumstances changed.
A specific subsection of NRS 125.150 permits the court to modify a divorce decree if both parties agree to the changes in writing and request modification. Under this provision, an agreement between the spouses is one way to modify an alimony order. However, the law specifically prohibits modification as to accrued payments that are already due. Generally, modification is only permitted as to payments that have not accrued at the time a modification motion is filed.
The statute expressly provides that the court should take into account whether the paying spouse’s income has been reduced to a level that results in that spouse being financially unable to pay the ordered amount of alimony. The judge also may take into account any of the other factors listed in the law that apply to an initial alimony determination.
Regarding modification, the law specifically states that “a change of 20 percent or more in the gross monthly income of a spouse who is ordered to pay alimony shall be deemed to constitute changed circumstances requiring a review for modification of the payments of alimony.” As a result of this provision, if the paying spouse’s income has not changed by at least 20 percent, a request for modification must establish other significant changed circumstances that support the request.
If you think your circumstances justify modification of an alimony award in a divorce decree, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer will evaluate the situation to determine whether Nevada law supports a modification request. It is not advisable to file a petition for modification on your own without legal representation. Doing so could jeopardize your chances of getting a modification, even if your circumstances might support the change.
Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten assists clients with petitions for modification of alimony and spousal support, as well as all other issues arising in Clark County divorce cases. Attorney Gersten’s investigative background and trial experience are especially important in gathering evidence and presenting that information to the court, which can make all the difference in how a judge decides the issues in a modification proceeding or other matter relating to divorce.
At The Gersten Law Firm, your initial consultation is always free-of-charge. We help clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and throughout Clark County with family and domestic matters. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.