In the Maryland divorce process, a judge will often award alimony, which is a form of spousal support. When a judge decides to order alimony payments, he or she specifies the amount and the duration of those payments based on a variety of factors related to each party’s needs, financial situation and ability to support themselves. In other cases, the spouses get together and create a separation agreement that dictates the terms of the alimony, and this agreement is then reviewed and approved by the court.

In either scenario, the amount and duration of alimony can only be based on information that is known at the time and predictions about the future. While these predictions are sometimes accurate, many people experience unexpected life changes that cause an existing alimony order to become unfairly low, high, short or long. In these cases, a judge has the power to modify the order.

There are many reasons why an existing alimony payment structure can become unfair or difficult to maintain. Someone could lose a job, get an unexpected promotion, experience a serious medical emergency or even inherit money from a long-lost relative.

In these cases, you can petition the court to modify your alimony award or agreement to change the amount or duration. While courts are typically hesitant to make small modifications, they are much more likely to agree to a modification when the changes in circumstances are more serious.

There are some situations, however, when modification is not possible. If the original separation agreement explicitly left out any mention of alimony, a court cannot award it later. Similarly, if the separation agreement states that a court cannot modify spousal support later, then a court will usually enforce this provision.

For help modifying a spousal support agreement or preventing changes to your alimony payments , contact the dedicated La Plata family law attorneys at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.