Modification & Enforcement of Maintenance Award

If there is a change in circumstances that changes the financial situation of either the spouse paying maintenance or the spouse receiving maintenance, either spouse may request a modification (or even a termination) of the maintenance award. The court may consider the following circumstances in determining whether to modify or terminate the maintenance award:

  • The paying spouse loses a job or becomes so seriously ill that he or she cannot earn an income
  • The receiving spouse finds work that substantially increases his or her income
  • The receiving spouse is unable to support his or her self
  • The receiving spouse’s financial position changes negatively, due to circumstances related to the economy, such as a sudden rise in prices or taxes, or due to illness, that leaves them living a poorer lifestyle than they were accustomed to
  • The receiving spouse’s financial position changes positively because the spouse received a substantial inheritance that gives the spouse a much better lifestyle or begins a new relationship that reduces the receiving spouse’s financial need
  • The paying spouse’s financial circumstances change due to a good faith retirement
  • Any other substantial change in either spouse’s circumstances
  • The termination of child support and the effect that has on the receiving spouse’s financial situation.

The spouse seeking a change in maintenance must prove the changed circumstances that affect the financial situation.

Enforcement of Maintenance Award

New York provides several different remedies if one spouse refuses to pay maintenance.

Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, you may seek enforcement of a maintenance award even if your former spouse has left New York. The enforcement remedies for maintenance include:  obtaining a wage deduction order; obtaining a money judgment for the unpaid maintenance; holding the paying spouse in contempt of court and subjecting the paying spouse to jail, among other remedies.

Legal Editor: Elliot Polland, January 2015

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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