It depends on the determination that was originally made by the Court, and the form that the maintenance award was placed in the divorce decree. Generally, if the maintenance obligation is modifiable, then it is subject to modification, based on a substantial change in circumstances. That substantial change in circumstances, as you suggest, could be due to a different employment or different job or job loss. In this economy, we see that very often. It could be due to a serious health condition that’s limited someone’s ability to generate income or to find the revenue to pay the maintenance award with.
The change in circumstances, though, needs to be beyond the paying spouse’s control. If an ex-spouse just decides to voluntarily leave one job and take another position that pays half of what he/she used to earn, that probably is not going to support a request that the amount of maintenance that he/she has to pay a former spouse be reduced. If the circumstances are genuine and they’re beyond the ability to influence or control of the paying spouse and it’s not designated as non-modifiable, then often maintenance obligation for someone can be successfully reduced.
Chuck Roberts is a family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.