Does an Unexpected Financial Windfall Have an Effect on Alimony Payments?

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Financial windfall refers to someone coming into a large and oftentimes unexpected sum of money. It can range in amount from hundreds to millions of dollars. You may have thought the amount was going to be lower or you may have been unaware that the money was coming, but either way, it is an unanticipated gain. If you’re paying alimony to an ex-spouse and receive a financial windfall, you may be concerned that your payments will be affected. Contact a Suffolk County alimony lawyer for more information and assistance.

What Are Some Examples of Financial Windfall?

A financial windfall can come in many forms. Some examples include:

  • Buying a $2 scratch-off and winning thousands of dollars
  • Receiving an inheritance and being shocked that it is millions of dollars
  • Getting a major surprise bonus from work
  • Receiving life insurance money

Will I Have to Pay More Alimony After a Financial Windfall?

In short, it is unlikely that your alimony payments will increase after you come into a large sum of money. Alimony is decided upon at the time of divorce to allow your ex-spouse to support their typical lifestyle. It is not usually based on a percentage of your income but instead is a flat rate unless an escalator clause was specifically referenced in your divorce agreements. An escalator clause allows the agreed-upon amount or price of something to change depending on certain conditions. In this case, it would allow the agreed-upon alimony to increase if your salary increases. If your divorce agreement includes an escalator clause then your ex may be entitled to an increase in alimony after a financial windfall.

What Are Reasons that Alimony May Be Ajdusted?

It has been established that unless there is a clause stating so, alimony payments will not be increased after the payer receives an extensive amount of money. But can alimony payments ever change? The answer is yes, there are a few valid reasons that alimony payments may be increased or decreased as time goes on. Some reasons include:

  • Cost of living increases
    • Many divorce agreements have a COLA (cost of living adjustment) clause. Alimony can be automatically adjusted if the average cost of living changes, because the payments may no longer be sufficient enough to cover the expenses of the receiving spouse.
  • Cohabitation
    • If the receiving spouse moves in with a new partner the paying spouse can request that alimony payments be decreased or even eliminated. However, the receiving spouse can challenge this request if they can prove that they still require spousal support.
  • Disability
    • If either the paying spouse or the receiving spouse becomes disabled, alimony may change. If the receiving spouse becomes disabled they can request an increase in alimony. If the paying spouse becomes disabled they can request a decrease in alimony.
  • Introduction of new responsibilities
    • If the paying spouse has a child with a new partner they can request a reduction of alimony on the grounds that they need to support their new family.

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