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How To Modify Alimony Based on Cohabitation
If your former spouse starts living with a new romantic partner, you shouldn't have to pay alimony.The standard for modification of alimony varies from state to state.The act of cohabitation is enough to end alimony in some states.In some cases, alimony may be reduced but not terminated.To modify alimony based on cohabitation, you must file a motion with the court that issued your divorce decree requesting the judge reexamine the circumstances.
Step 1: You should talk to your former spouse.
Before you file a motion with the court to modify your alimony, it's a good idea to discuss the matter with your ex- spouse.Tell us why you want to modify or avoid the alimony.Don't insult your ex- spouse or accuse them of being wrongful if you approach the situation objectively.You can file an agreed motion with the court if you can get your ex- spouse to agree that alimony should be reduced or terminated.If you think getting them to agree with you is a lost cause, it may be worth sitting down with your former spouse.Your ex- spouse has moved on by moving in with another romantic partner.There is less need for the money coming in from the alimony because of the change in circumstances.Agreed motions don't involve as much hassle.The judge simply signs the agreed order and there is no need for a court hearing.
Step 2: You should consult your attorney.
Call the attorney who worked with you on your divorce if your spouse won't agree to modify alimony.It is possible to get their advice even if you don't have them represent you.This is important if you have a history of animosity with your former spouse or if they plan to oppose any motion you file.You're going to want an attorney on your side if your former spouse hires one after being served with your motion.It's better if the attorney drafted the motion from the beginning.If you go to the same attorney who represented you during the divorce, they may not charge you anything to come in and talk or have a phone conversation.From there, you can decide if you want them to represent you.
Step 3: You can find forms or templates.
If you don't hire an attorney for your motion to modify, you will have to draft it yourself.It will be easier to format your motion if you use forms or templates.There is a self-help section on the court's website that provides information for people who are representing themselves.There are self-help clinics for family law.If you have questions about the forms or the documents you need to request a modification, you can talk to experts there.A good resource is the clerk's office.The clerk's office can't give you advice about your case, so keep that in mind.It's the same for self-help clinics.You can only ask about forms or procedures.
Step 4: Look at your divorce decree.
The judge's original order must be mentioned in your motion since you're asking for it to be changed.The same case number will be listed at the top of your motion.When your divorce decree was entered, and in which court, is the first paragraph of your motion.You'll usually name the court even if it's the same court as you're filing your motion in.You will restate the orders in the decree relating to alimony, including the amount and frequency at which you must pay, as well as the length of time alimony payments were awarded.Even though it's obvious from the date of the decree how long you've been paying alimony, you may want to include a statement about the number of payments you have made.If you've made every payment in full and on time, it shows the judge that you have a legitimate reason to request a modification.
Step 5: There has been a substantial change in circumstances.
A substantial change in circumstances is what is required to modify an alimony award.The specifics you're required to show may be different.The courts in different states treat cohabitation differently when reconsidering an alimony award.If you believe your former spouse will oppose your motion, you should have an attorney help you.In Utah, proof of cohabitation terminates any obligation to pay alimony.Whether the new romantic partner provides financial assistance to your former spouse is one of the additional factors the courts look at.You need to state in your motion facts that your former spouse is living with a new romantic partner.You don't need to attach any evidence to prove cohabitation in the motion.The burden-shifting procedure is used by most courts.The burden of proof is on your former spouse to prove that he or she still needs alimony after you've provided enough information.
Step 6: The court can modify your alimony.
The purpose of your motion is to ask the court to modify the alimony award based on the change in circumstances that you have laid out.Depending on the laws in your state, a modification can take effect.Standard language is used at the end of the motion in a form or template.Look for a statement that begins with "based on the foregoing."The request is usually just a sentence, and doesn't need to go into specifics.You can use the word "terminate" if you want the court to end alimony.It's best to just say "modify" and leave all options open.The court may deny your motion if you ask them to end alimony.If you asked the court to modify alimony, the judge may have decided to reduce it.
Step 7: You need to sign your documents.
You must sign any documents required by the court once you've finished drafting your motion.You have to sign your motion in the presence of a Notary.From the form or template you used, you can see if your signature must be notified.You should look for a box.It's a good idea to wait until the day you're going to file the documents to visit a notary.If everything is done on the same day, it looks better, as opposed to a filing date a week after the signature date.
Step 8: You can call the clerk's office.
If you talk to someone in the clerk's office before you go to the courthouse to file, you can find out what forms you need and the amount of the filing fee.You may think you are familiar with the court's procedures, but they may have changed since your divorce was finalized.The clerk can give you an idea of how much you'll have to pay.You can find the same information from the court's website, but sometimes it is easier to make a phone call.
Step 9: Make copies of your paperwork.
Before you go to the courthouse, make at least two copies of each document, one for your own records and one to serve on your former spouse.You can make copies in the clerk's office, but you will be charged 25 cents a page, and there may be a minimum charge.You can save money by doing your own copies.Just in case, you might want to make an extra copy.The originals and one copy are what some courts want.
Step 10: Go to the clerk's office.
You have to give your original documents and copies to the clerk so they can stamp them.The originals will be kept for the court by the clerk.You will have to pay a filing fee.You may be able to apply for a fee waiver if you can't afford the filing fee.Fees may not be allowed for motions if the filing fee is much lower than for opening a new court case.When you file a motion, the clerk may schedule a hearing or the court may have a different procedure.If you're filing an agreed motion, there won't be a hearing.The clerk will let you know what to do next.
Step 11: You should have your ex-spouse serve you.
If you want the court to modify the alimony award, you must have a copy of the motion served on your former spouse.The easiest way to have your former spouse served is to mail them a copy of the documents using certified mail.If you get a green card in the mail, you should save it to show proof of service.You can pay a small fee to a sheriff's deputy or private process server to hand deliver the documents for you.They will complete a proof of service document for you once this is done.You can get anyone over the age of 18 who isn't involved in the case to deliver the documents for you.You will have to make sure the proof of service document is completed correctly and filed with the court if you go this route.
Step 12: Receive a reply.
If your ex- spouse doesn't agree that the alimony award should be changed, he or she can file an opposition, which is a written court memo that explains why the award is still the same.If your former spouse files an opposition, it will be served on you and your attorney using one of the standard methods for service of process.Use the response to make your arguments.If you can find evidence that directly refutes what your ex- spouse said in the response, you are able to introduce it at trial.It's possible that you won't get a response at all.This doesn't mean you've won the motion, since written responses are often not required.
Step 13: The court has instructions.
Depending on your former spouse's response, what happens next varies greatly.Before a hearing will be scheduled, some courts will require you to attend mediation or a settlement conference.If your former spouse has filed a written opposition to your motion, other courts give you a limited discovery period.The modification of alimony will be discussed during the discovery period.You may want to include financial records at the trial.While your motion is pending, make alimony payments under the original order.If the judge denies your motion, you'll be in arrears and it won't look good if your former spouse says you stopped making payments.
Step 14: You should organize your documents.
You should bring a copy of your original divorce decree if the court schedules a hearing.If you want to prove that your former spouse is living with a new romantic partner, you will need evidence.If you're representing yourself, you should prepare a brief statement outlining your motion for the judge.You can go off your motion and use it as an outline.If you have evidence you want to introduce at the hearing, arrange it so you can find it quickly.You can give the original to the judge if you make at least two copies of any documents you plan to introduce.You can call witnesses to support your motion.If you hire a private investigator or find out about your former spouse's new romantic partner from a mutual friend, you should talk to them before the hearing to make sure you ask the right questions.
Step 15: The date of your hearing is important.
You should arrive at the courthouse at least half an hour before your hearing.You have enough time to go through security and find the correct courtroom.During your divorce, you probably know how to dress and act.The same rules apply when there is a motion hearing.If you're going to a church service or job interview, wear conservative clothing.When you find the right courtroom, take a seat in the gallery until the judge calls your motion.You can go to the front of the courtroom.
Step 16: Your motion should be presented to the judge.
You can state your case first since it's your motion.The judge may ask you questions or expect you to deliver a speech.Stick to the facts.Do your best to keep your emotions out of the situation, as you may be angry or upset that your former spouse has moved in with a new partner.Don't say anything that could be seen as an insult, accusation, or derogatory comment against your former spouse.Don't speak to your former spouse if they try to interrupt you.On the other hand, if the judge does interrupt you, stop speaking.Continue with your presentation after you answered the judge's question.Speak to the witness and ask them questions if you're questioning them.Don't comment on their testimony.Any witness you call will have the opportunity to be cross-examined by your former spouse.
Step 17: Listen to the other side of the story.
If your former spouse shows up in court against your motion to modify alimony, the judge will want to hear from him or her as well.Pay attention to what your ex- spouse has to say, and be prepared to answer any questions.The appearance of the place is important.Don't make faces or rude gestures because the judge will be watching you.Make a note of anything you disagree with.You might have the chance to speak again.If your former spouse calls witnesses, you can ask them questions of your own.Make note of anything you want to ask them, and pay close attention to their testimony.Anything that makes the witness seem biased should be the focus of the cross-examination.It won't take much to discount witness testimony in most courts because the burden has shifted to your former spouse.
Step 18: Receive the decision from the judge.
You will find out if your motion is granted or denied after the judge hears from you.From the bench of the decision, the judge will give you a written order.If the judge grants your motion, it will be effective as of that day and won't apply to back payments.In Utah, terminated alimony applies back to when the motion was filed.You might be able to get a refund.You can appeal the ruling if the judge denies your motion.You only have a few weeks before the deadline to file an appeal, so contact an attorney as soon as possible to assess your options.