If the conditions under which spousal support payments can be changed, reduced, or terminated are not specifically addressed in a divorce agreement or court order, then the paying spouse may be able to go to court and show that circumstances have changed to support a modification or reduction in spousal support.
Here are five potential ways to reduce spousal support:
Illness. The court will take into account the fact that a serious illness can make it harder for the supporting party to work. The person's age, physical condition, medical bills, and emotional condition are factors that courts can consider when making decisions about spousal support modifications.
Unemployment. When a supporting ex-spouse suddenly and involuntarily becomes unemployed, he or she may be able to reduce, postpone or eliminate their spousal support obligation. However, this is not an option when the paying party voluntarily leaves a job or seeks a reduction in income as a way to dodge paying spousal support in full. So if you lose your job on purpose, or didn't need it to begin with, don't expect a reduction.
New significant other. The court may reduce a spousal support order when the recipient spouse is living with someone new. But it's important to note they must be living together as a couple, not as roommates. If they are sharing living expenses and the living situation is of a permanent nature, this could be a successful argument for a spousal support reduction.
Death. You may not have waited for "'til death do us part," but you may have to wait for it when it comes to the end of spousal support. Most spousal support payments end when an ex-spouse dies.
Remarriage. When the recipient spouse says "I do" and "'til death do us part" to someone else, you may be off the hook when it comes to spousal support. Remarriage is one of the more common ways for spousal support to be reduced or terminated entirely.
To learn more about how to reduce spousal support, among many other spousal support-related topics, check out FindLaw's Guide to Spousal Support. It's free and has a boatload of information on the topic. You can also get a free consultation from an experienced family law attorney near you.