Spousal support can only be modified if the original decree of divorce authorizes the court to do so. If the decree gives this authority, then a “change of circumstances” for either party can lead to spousal support modification. A change of circumstances includes any increase or decrease in a party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses or medical expenses. (source: Ohio Domestic Relations Practice Manual).
Language allowing modification of spousal support should explicitly state whether retirement can be considered as a factor. Just as it is when first establishing spousal support, there is no actual formula to modify support (its length or amount). However, the predicted length of the paying spouse’s working career is always important.
If an injury or other unpredictable condition occurs, changing the paying spouse’s income – than it is often the case that spousal support be reduced on a pro rata basis. For example, if the paying husband is injured and receives disability payments equal to 70 percent of his past income, then the spousal support could be appropriately changed to 70 percent of the current order.
When determining spousal support modification, the court should look at the overall financial needs of both parties. In a post-decree situation, either party may seek attorney fees and court costs from the other party. The court will base such an award on what is “equitable.”
In asking the court to modify an existing court order for spousal support, it is crucial to have the guidance of an experienced family law attorney in your area.