Alimony payments are meant to be equitable, not debilitative. Sometimes changed circumstances can make alimony payments feel unfair. If you are required to pay sums that are causing you financial hardship or that aren’t warranted by your circumstances, you may be wondering if there is a legal answer to your troubles.
There are two ways by which you can reduce alimony payments in Arkansas: you can either come to an agreement outside of the courtroom with your ex-spouse or you can formally ask the court to reconsider their original determination of alimony due to a material change in either spouse’s circumstances. Alimony payments also may terminate automatically if a recipient remarries or moves in with another person.
The best chance that you have at reducing your alimony requirements in Arkansas is enlisting the help of Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP. Our seasoned Arkansas family law attorneys can negotiate a new agreement on your behalf or advocate for you through a modification request proceeding. For more on how we can help you, call our offices at (479) 439-9840.
Agreements to Reduce Alimony Through Settlement in Arkansas
Alimony is the means by which courts in Arkansas ensure that each spouse is taken care of equitably. The terms of alimony payments may be arranged either by the ex-spouses through a divorce settlement or by a court in a formal divorce proceeding.
Regardless of how the alimony arrangement was originally conceived, there are two legal methods for adjusting the arrangement due to changes that may occur in your life or the life of your ex-spouse. The less confrontational option of the two is an agreement between the two ex-spouses to modify the arrangement.
In order for the adjustment to legally take effect, the modification agreement must be signed and dated by both parties and submitted to the court for approval. Once the court issues its approval of the agreement, the adjustment is effective.
If you initially settled your divorce outside of court, your divorce agreement may contain terms for how alimony may be altered. You can ask an attorney to examine the terms of that document to determine if there are any restrictions on your ability to modify alimony. If a provision like this exists, it can make any attempt to modify your alimony requirements much more complicated.
Negotiations for a modification agreement may take place outside of a courtroom, but that does not mean that you can’t have the help of counsel. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf and draft the settlement agreement. Enlisting the help of an alimony attorney can help protect against further damage to your relationship that may be caused by a legal battle while also ensuring that your new agreement is legally binding. If you are interested in negotiation an alimony modification settlement in Arkansas, we highly recommend that you speak to one of the competent alimony attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP first.
Asking an Arkansas Court to Reduce Alimony
If you are unable to mutually agree on a reduction in alimony with your ex-spouse, you have the option in Arkansas to petition for a court-ordered reduction. Either spouse may formally request that the court review their circumstances to determine whether an adjustment to the original order is proper.
Courts will decide on the merits of a request to modify alimony if the request comes due to a substantial, material change in the life of either spouse. Modification is most successfully where the change is unexpected or has a great deal of impact on either spouse’s financial situation. The following are some examples of events that could cause a court to grant an alimony reduction request:
- Either spouse becomes injured or sick and incurs substantial medical expenses
- Either spouse becomes injured or sick and is unable to work as a result
- Either spouse loses their job and expects to be out of work for an extended period
- Either spouse operates a business that is forced to close or declare bankruptcy
- Other events with substantial financial impacts (e.g., realization of a sizeable inheritance)
Depending on the circumstances, an Arkansas court may reduce alimony payments temporarily. For instance, if you lose your job, a court may reduce or eliminate your payment obligations until you find a new source of income. Courts will only grant these reductions for a period of time within reason.
While your request is in the process of being heard and not yet decided, it is important that you continue to meet the original alimony requirements. Depending on the complexities of the situation and the nature of the request, determinations on alimony modification could take weeks or even months. If you are concerned that you will not be able to satisfy the original requirements over the course of your alimony modification proceeding, speak to one of our alimony attorneys about your options in Arkansas.
Termination of Alimony in Arkansas
There are some events that give rise to an immediate termination of alimony under Arkansas law. If the recipient spouse remarries to a new partner, alimony payments are no longer required. The alimony obligation also ends in the event of “cohabitation.” Cohabitation has occurred if the recipient ex-spouse has moved in and lives with a new partner in a serious and intimate manner or when the recipient ex-spouse has a child with the new partner. Alimony responsibilities also terminate upon the death of either ex-spouse.
If you believe that your alimony requirements should legally be terminated, you must file a formal request in court just as you might for a modification. It is important that you continue to meet your obligations until a decision is rendered.
We Can Help You Reduce Your Alimony in Arkansas Today
To begin the process of modifying your alimony requirements in Arkansas, your first step should be contacting the capable Arkansas alimony attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP. To schedule your consultation, call us at (479) 439-9840.