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Varying (Changing) Your Divorce Order or Separation Agreement
“I think my ex is earning more, and should be required to pay more child support. How do I find out my ex’s income?”
You can start by asking for your ex’s recent income tax returns. However, most of the time, these requests are ignored. To force your ex to disclose his or her income, generally it is necessary to start legal proceedings. Of course, if your ex’s income has not really changed much, this could be a costly exercise with little result.
“My child support order was made before the guidelines were enacted. Can I change my child support?”
Yes, the enactment of the guidelines is considered sufficient grounds by the court to change child support. There does not need to be a change in the payor’s income.
“Can spousal support be reduced because I’m earning less?”
Maybe. It depends on a lot of factors, including why you are earning less, what your divorce order or separation agreement states, what roles were assumed by each spouse during the marriage, and what changes there have been in your ex-spouse’s income. Note that a court is permitted to impute income to you. This means that if a judge believes that you have purposely reduced your income, the judge can order spousal support on the basis of your old income.
“Can spousal support be stopped because my former partner remarried?”
Maybe. This depends on many things, including the basis on which spousal support was originally awarded. If, for instance, spousal support was awarded because there was a large disparity in your and your partner’s income – and your partner’s new spouse has a good income – then you may be able to reduce spousal support. If, however, spousal support was awarded to compensate your ex for the role assumed during the marriage - for instance, giving up a career to look after the children and a household, then it will be a lot harder to end spousal support.
“I’ve remarried and have a new family to support. Can I reduce my child support or spousal support obligations?”
Generally, no. The law regards your first family as paramount and you can’t reduce your financial obligations to them just because you have a second family.
“Can a temporary (interim) order be varied?”
It is more difficult to change a temporary (interim) order than it is to change a final order. This is because a temporary order is there to tide the spouses through to trial or to the resolution of the case. So, in addition to showing a material change in circumstances, you also must show that there is a good reason no to wait until the trial or resolution of your case. The change would need to be fairly dramatic - the most common one I’ve seen is where one spouse loses their job and child support or spousal support is at issue.