How Do You Modify or Terminate Alimony?

Sometimes after a divorce there are reasons that the spousal maintenance or alimony needs to be modified or terminated. There are clear standards for changing the terms of the alimony that was ordered as part of the final divorce decree. So here are some of the basics of modification or termination:

Modification of Spousal Maintenance or Alimony

To modify a spousal maintenance order, one of the two parties affected need to file a motion in the court that originally rendered the order. The court may make modifications to the maintenance order on a proper showing of a material and substantial change in circumstances. These may include circumstances used to determine the original maintenance agreement, such as the care of a disabled child of the marriage. The law is also clear on what prevents a modification. This includes a loss of employment or an incapacitating physical or mental disability that occurs after the divorce or annulment which are not grounds for modifying spousal maintenance for the former spouse, even if these circumstances render them unable to provide for their minimum needs.


  • Notice of the motion to modify maintenance must be given by service of citation, and a response must be given before 10 a.m. on the first Monday after 20 days after the date of service.
  • The payment modification will only apply to payments accruing after the filling of the motion to modify.

Termination of Spousal Maintenance or Alimony

The obligation of paying spousal maintenance obligation ends on the remarriage of the person receiving the payments, or on the death of either party. The obligation can also be ended if the person receiving payments is found to be living with a significant other, even if they’re not married. A court may order the termination of the maintenance obligation if it finds in a hearing that the obligee cohabits with another person with whom they have a romantic relationship in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis.

It is important to know that though these circumstances terminate the obligation to pay any future maintenance, the obligation remains for any unpaid balance left before the date of the termination.